Matheus Hamutenya and Maria Amakali
WINDHOEK - The construction of the N$$5.7 billion Neckartal Dam in the //Kharas Region has now been completed, Agriculture, Water and Forestry Minister Alpheus !Naruseb has revealed.
He made the announcement in Windhoek yesterday at the official handover of rural water supply and sanitation functions to regional councils. “I am pleased to announce that the long-awaited Neckartal Dam is now completed and it will start capturing rainwater during the coming rainy season,” he said.
The construction of the dam started in 2013, with the Italian company Salini-Impregilo contracted as the main contractor after winning a court battle in which the awarding of the tender was challenged, but five years on the dam is now completed and ready to collect and store water.
!Naruseb, who recently visited the dam, said construction work has been done and that the dam is now 100 percent complete.
He also informed those in attendance and the public at large that the Ohangwena aquifer is currently being tested and the first storage is being constructed for further testing and water storage, noting that it is therefore his sincere hope that these major water supply projects will significantly reduce the country’s dependence on unsafe and unreliable water sources.
Together with its bulk water supply company, NamWater, the ministry has been responsible for transporting water, purifying water, storing clean water and distributing such water to the people by developing appropriate infrastructure such as pipelines, drilling boreholes and construction of dams.
Yesterday New Era reported about a farmer from Oshana Sheengete in Oshikoto Region who lost 28 cattle after they consumed water from a well suspected to have been contaminated by toxins.
Initially budgeted at N$3.2 billion the cost of the Neckaratal Dam has significantly ballooned over the years, in part due to delays and penalties on late payments by the government. The total cost of the dam is now set at about N$5.7 billion, as stated by the ministry’s permanent secretary Percy Misika during his visit to the dam in January this year.
Located in the Berseba Constituency in the //Kharas Region, Neckartal Dam is about 80 metres high and now becomes the largest dam in Namibia, with the ability to hold 880 million cubic metres of water, the equivalent of 300 000 Olympic pools. Its surface area covers nearly 40 square kilometres.
This is about three times more than the Hardap Dam, which until now was Namibia’s largest dam.
The dam is expected to be a source of water for irrigation schemes with 5 000 hectares of land expected to be used for agricultural development of the area.
Yesterday !Naruseb said the delegation of rural water supply functions to the regional councils was approved by Cabinet in 2007.
Before the handover, the ministry ensured that there is an appropriate number of staff members of regional level to ensure efficient and effective service delivery – renovating and or constructing adequate office space in all regions and improving the very poor rural water supply infrastructure in all regions.
“The ministry established new and renovated offices in places such as Oshana, Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Kavango East, Zambezi, Otjozondjupa, Omaheke, //Kharas, Hardap, Kunene and Erongo regions. Plans are also advanced to continue with the establishment of an office in Kavango West as and when permitted by the financial situation,” he said.