The environment and tourism ministry have refuted allegations and widespread perceptions that the Etosha National Park is in disarray, with roads and other facilities in a dilapidated state.
The ministry’s spokesperson Romeo Muyunda clarified the roads in Etosha are largely in good condition, with the majority of them being rehabilitated or maintained continuously.
According to him, the ministry, in collaboration with stakeholders, invested funds in the park’s tourist roads.
“From this end, a total of 195km has been constructed and completed, consisting of 69km between Sonderkop and Olifantstrui and 126km between Olifantstrui and Galton gate, including the dolomite detour to the cost of N$35 million,” he maintained.
Further, he said the ministry is currently constructing an 86km stretch of road from Ozonjuitji M’bari to Okaukuejo, which is expected to cost N$71.3 million.
The ministry is also facilitating the implementation of a recent cabinet-approved road maintenance strategy to cater for other road sections, totalling 213 km.
However, he admitted the road construction project includes a low-volume seal road, emergency borehole drilling and infrastructure for borehole pumping.
“While this is true, we admit there are a few exceptions, particularly in the park’s eastern sections between Okaukuejo, Halali and Namutoni, where the roads require maintenance. This is primarily due to the fact that all our graders used for road maintenance are being repaired,” he defended.
According to Muyunda, as soon as the graders are repaired, work on levelling the roads and bringing them up to acceptable standards will begin, targeting the worst sections first.
The ministry reminded all road users, particularly those driving heavy vehicles, to adhere to the speed limit set in the park, adding over speeding leads to a shorter lifespan on park roads.
Muyunda said the ministry noticed that some prominent people have gone around the park, sniffing for bad things.
“If you look for it, you will find it, as the saying goes. There is never a day that will go by without the need to maintain something in any of the national parks,” he said.
He added the same individuals have also spread lies that fires in the Etosha are not attended to.
Therefore, he denied there has not been any fires in the park over a month and that all fires previously reported in the part and close-by areas were attended to.
To this end, he said the ministry has a comprehensive fire management strategy that addresses both fire suppression and prevention.
At times, he stated officials may pre-burn an area ahead of the fire season as a management tool.
On the park waterholes, Muyunda said these drinking holes are generally in good condition as with any infrastructure or facility; there might be some technical issues affecting the pumping of water, but these are quickly attended to by officials whenever they are observed or reported.
He appealed to and reminded tour operators who conduct tours in the park that they are equally responsible for ensuring the park infrastructure is preserved by adopting responsible behaviours.
“We are noting disturbing trends where tourists are allowed to drive off-road, over the speed limit, litter and jump out of vehicles. All of these tarnish the reputation and image of our flagship park.” – email@example.com