Albertina Nakale Windhoek-With the water level of the Zambezi River rapidly rising the Zambezi regional disaster risk management unit plans to close schools in the flooded Kabbe areas. Due to heavy flooding experienced in the Zambezi, many schools in the Kabbe flood-prone areas have been cut off – leaving learners and teachers exposed to harsh conditions, as they have to cross streams using dugout canoes, risking their lives to crocodiles lurking in the water. Crossing flooded streams is very dangerous due to the presence of dangerous animals such as crocodiles and snakes that come with the floods. A learner at Muzii Combined School was attacked by a crocodile while paddling his dugout canoe from school. The learner escaped with minor injuries from the crocodile’s jaws. The Zambezi Regional Governor, Lawrence Sampofu, who yesterday confirmed the incident, said the river is rising very fast, which will force them to close schools if the situation worsens. He said the water level of the Zambezi River stood at 5.61m compared to 2.90m last year during the corresponding period. On Wednesday the water level stood at 5.54m compared to 2.81m at the same time last year. However, Sampofu pointed out that parents in the affected areas refuse to move to higher grounds, which negatively affects learners as they can’t relocate on their own. “People are there. They don’t want to move. No vehicle can access the areas. Only by boat. We plan to close schools and learners could attend classes during the holidays and schools open early in May,” Sampofu said. Further, he said, the disaster risk management committee in consultation with education directorate officials are on a fact-finding mission to access the situation by engaging principals and parents on the possibility of school closures. Sampofu explained that once parents and school management agree as to when they would like to be relocated, they should inform the authorities accordingly for such an exercise to begin. “We can’t force people to move out. If parents say they don’t want their children to move, then we will move teachers. Last year, I went there with a helicopter but they said they were not moving. Even teachers had said they were not moving,” he said. According to him, the challenge the regional council faces is a lack of functional speedboats. He added that the few that are available are broken and could not be repaired due to severe budget cuts by the government. In addition, he said, the three hoovers they had are also dysfunctional and could also not be repaired due to lack of funds. This lack of adequate functional speedboats, he says, will negatively impact the evacuation process, should it go ahead as anticipated. Asked on the status of the Kapelwa Kabajani ferry, Sampofu said the ferry was was not bought for flood purposes but for public transport. It has been broken for some time, he said, but the works and transport ministry has since secured two engines and it will be repaired to start ferrying people from Katima Mulilo to Impalila and Kasika. On the tariffs for the ferry, Sampofu said the Zambezi Regional Council has come up with affordable fares of N$80 per person for residents, adding that these prices have been approved by Cabinet. He said health ministry officials already went to the affected areas to ensure the health centres are stocked with adequate medicines to sustain people who are cut off from essential services.
2018-03-09 08:55:06 6 months ago