Namibia: Too Late to Complain About Oil Drilling in Kavango

27 October 2020

Rundu — The Kavango East governor Bonifatius Wakudumo has said it is too late for farmers in the region to complain about the oil exploration project that will soon start south of Rundu at Kawe village.

The Kavango East Regional Farmers Union (KERFU) recently complained that wide consultations were done and believe that undertakings of this huge magnitude with massive financial injection from investors require wider consultations.

"In our view this did not take place in this case. We are requesting the office of the environmental commissioner to produce a list of those who were consulted. KERFU has approached some traditional authorities in Kavango East who all said were not consulted during the Environmental Impact Assessment," the association chairperson Adolf Muremi earlier said in a statement.

The association is concerned that exploration sites by Recon Africa, lies in the commercial farming unit area of Kavango regions.

Muremi said the deep wells of approximately 3.6 to 4km deep to be drilled for gas and oil exploration is of great concern not only to environmentalists but to the farming community as well.

"Oil wells will have a significant impact on the environment. To drill for oil on land, vegetation and topsoil need to be cleared, which has a significant impact on the wildlife and plant life in the area," he said.

"It also creates erosion, as there is no topsoil or plant-life to absorb the water. Drilling exploratory wells can also damage natural habitats."

Muremi has accused the office of the governor of not sharing necessary information regarding the oil exploration project. "The office of the governor seems to have more information which it is not sharing. The union has attempted to contact the office of the regional governor who attended the launch to get clarity on the matter but to no avail," he said.

KERFU wants, the office of the governor to convene a stakeholders meeting to discuss the matter of oil exploration thoroughly.

On his part, governor Wakudumo noted that at this stage, all the processes have been done and there is no going back. "The Environmental Impact Assessment was done by professionals, everything is done, at this stage work is about to start. The oil drilling rig will be in the country probably by the second week of November and they have started advertising to employ people who will work at the site and so on," Wakudumo said.

The governor noted that bulk earthwork is also about to start at the drilling site. "This project didn't start yesterday, they have engaged communities and traditional leaders and at this stage there is no going back, it's too late for more consultations," he said.

"Our wish now should be that the oil and gas exploration is successful as it will be good for us as a country, it will bring a positive impact to our economy. We are going to have a meeting with Recon

Africa tomorrow and they are going to give us an update," he added. The firm received a petroleum exploration licence in January 2015, with the purpose of conducting exploration activities in the region, their licence covers both Kavango West and East regions. The oil and gas exploration drilling is expected to start in December.

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