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Likando demands river transport rules

2023-04-25  Albertina Nakale

Likando demands river transport rules

Albertina Nakale

Particularly, Likando wants the government to provide the people with reliable and safe means of transportation after frequent casualties on the waterways in the region.

The residents of Zambezi, living alongside the rivers, continue living in fear of drowning, as their canoes and boats get capsized by dangerous animals, such as hippos and crocodiles as they paddle the treacherous waters. Among the many reported cases, in 2021 alone, a boat carrying 17 people capsized on the Chobe River.

The boat was carrying people who had been shopping inland and was returning to Impalila Island.

At the time, the Zambezi police confirmed that 12 people were rescued and three bodies: two boys and a girl, were recovered.

The same year, six children also drowned on the Chobe River when the boat they were travelling in capsized a few minutes after leaving the Nakabolelwa shore. The police confirmed the civilian boat, which was destined for Impalila island and is authorised to carry seven passengers, had 18 passengers, including the skipper, on board.

“My constituency is buffered by two connecting perennial rivers, namely Zambezi and Chobe. Over the last seven years, we have seen a number of people losing their lives due to the capsizing of boats and canoes predominantly overloaded. This is because there are no laws regulating the use of river transport. I have repeatedly reminded the authority to put regulations in place, as our communities need protection from the boat owners, who are concerned only with making money,” Likando bemoaned.

With the department of transportation, which has an operational budget of N$52 million and a development budget of N$1million for the 2023/24 financial year, Likando believes these funds are enough to make a positive intervention in river transportation by investigating and formulating live-saving guidelines.

He also raised concern over the fees that are not properly determined by private boat owners, who charge as they wish. Therefore, he suggested the need in determining structured, fees instead of the current business of doing things.  While applauding the ministry of transport and the Roads Authority on the progress made on roads around Impalila Island, he said the community living along Chobe River is still appealing for the fast-tracking of construction of a road network from Nakabolelwa to Kasika deep in the floodplain. “This long-awaited link will save as a solution of the hassle of going via Botswana and back to Namibia during flood season. It will solve the difficulty of supplying medical and school equipment and transportation of patients in case of emergency,” he recommended. Equally, he said, it will also address the maintenance of peace and order in the rural community, including the protection of the territory by the Namibia Defence Force. According to him, the link will also provide general service provision and tourism activities in the area.

“For too long, this road has caused damage to vehicles of road users due to its current state. I once again appeal to the ministry to make provision for the rehabilitation of culverts at Ishuwa stream and the extension of the construction of bridges along the major streams as a start – just to show much-promised commitment,” he indicated.

Another issue he raised is that Botswana customs authority is no longer allowing business people to transit their goods, unless they pay a guarantee, which is over 40% of the value of goods carried to be paid in foreign currency or visa card.

Likando said people cannot afford to pay such levies, and refunding these charges is a hassle in that neighbouring nation.

Therefore, he emphasised, the construction of this road of Nakabolelwa-Kasika must be treated as a priority and a matter of urgency, as it solves all these challenges.

2023-04-25  Albertina Nakale

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