Cost of Etosha fence slashed from half-billion to N$170m

Home National Cost of Etosha fence slashed from half-billion to N$170m

WINDHOEK – The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has started reviewing the current design of the Etosha National Park fence to reduce the cost of construction, which may have contributed among other factors to the delay in completing the fence.

This new development comes months after government pronounced itself that it needs N$491 million to repair a 712-kilometre fence of the Etosha National Park in the north-west of the country.

In June, the Director of Parks in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Colgar Sikopo said the ministry has “estimated through a feasibility study that the construction of the remaining 712 km requires N$491 million at current cost and can create significant temporary jobs”. However, he had cited budget constraints as a major challenge but said the ministry is putting all efforts to do more with less.

He also said elephant and lion-proof fences cost in excess of N$689 285 per kilometre, adding with the remaining 712 kilometres, this project will cost the government N$491 million. The ministry this week made a U-turn that the predator and elephant proof fence that the ministry has been working on over the past 10 years is over-designed, hence the cost of construction is too high. 

The ministry’s spokesperson Romeo Muyunda explained that government has decided to reduce the fencing specifications on the current design of which only 120 km of 840 is completed and 720 remains.

In this regard, he said the ministry has embarked on a benchmarking process to find an alternative design that is affordable without compromising on the quality and effectiveness of the fence. 

He revealed the government has assessed different facilities on private farms and game ranches in Namibia and South Africa that have big game such as rhinos, elephants, lions, buffalos, and hyenas in their quest to find a suitable design.  “After careful consideration, the ministry decided to develop a design that incorporates specifications from all the places that were assessed. Our projections indicate that the simplified fence may cost approximately N$240 000 per kilometre or even lower inclusive of material and labour and subjected to the terrain,” Muyunda noted.
At N$240 000 per kilometre, the bill would be reduced to N$170 million.

However, he says as with any other project, consultants will be appointed to develop the new design, costing (actual estimates), documentation and supervision. 

He could not reveal the new costs involved, saying the estimated amount still needs to be verified once a feasibility study is conducted on the new fence design.

According to him, the Etosha National Park is Namibia’s flagship park and therefore it is in the ministry’s interest that this fence is completed to enhance conservation in the park.  Its collapse has allowed the escape of dangerous wildlife into human settlements where lions killed livestock and elephants destroyed structures, and threatened human lives.  He said once complete, the fence will assist in reducing poaching and human-wildlife conflict cases, which may have escalated due to the poor state of the fence.

He, however, rejected and condemned any suggestions that individual staff members of the ministry have benefitted through corrupt means from the construction of the fence unless such accusations are reported to the police with evidence. 

“Baseless assumptions will deter us from attending to real issues as per our mandate that’s entrusted upon us by the citizens of this country,” he cautioned.