WALVIS BAY – The Zimbabwean ambassador to Namibia, Rofina Chikava, has applauded the local authorities for allowing 182 Zimbabwean nationals, working on cruise ships to be repatriated via the Walvis Bay airport on Friday.
The visibly emotional Chikava was overseeing the repatriation process at the Walvis Bay airport where her countrymen and women arrived in buses to board an Air Namibia humanitarian flight that was made possible by Carnival cruise ships.
The 182 Zimbabweans were among seven Namibians, Mozambicans, Malawians and Asians that spent 73 days at sea after the cruise liner decided to repatriate them from Florida in America via sea, as all international flights have been grounded due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“We are so glad and relieved our children are back, and it is all because of Namibia, who allowed the cruise ship to dock here despite being in lockdown. This is true Ubuntu. Namibia has once again shown that they are a true friend of Zimbabwe,” she said on Friday afternoon.
She added that other ports refused the cruise ship entry due to fears of the coronavirus. Hence, she says, there was no word to describe what Namibia’s gesture means to the government and families of those repatriated.
“It is a relief to see our children. You could see how brave they were smiling and singing when they disembarked the vessel and the buses at the airport. The Land of the Brave is really brave and my government appreciates the hand extended to our children,” she added.
Chikava added that the repatriated citizens would be quarantined for 14 days before being allowed to reunite with their families.
Namport’s commercial executive Immanuel Hanabeb said all relevant stakeholders and authorities met all conditions required to facilitate the repatriation of the Zimbabwean nationals.
“The principal approvals were received from the international relations ministry as well as the health ministry. The seven Namibians that were on board are currently in quarantine at a hotel here in Walvis Bay and the vessel left for Durban on Saturday where the Malawian and Mozambican crew will disembark,” Hanabeb said on Friday