Agriculture ministry delays crucial projects

The economic challenges currently being experienced in the country, which have led Government to introducing austerity measures across the public service,  have hit the agriculture ministry hard, delaying the start, as well as the completion of crucial capital development projects, including the N$4 billion Neckartal Dam and a host of green scheme initiatives.
This was confirmed by Agriculture, Water and Forestry Minister, John Mutorwa, during his annual ministerial policy meeting this week.
He said that critical water infrastructure projects, which were very important to the country at the moment, have been halted because of the financial cutbacks.
One of the projects that have been affected is the Neckartal Dam project, which he said is moving very slow.
Construction of the dam was supposed to be completed this year.
Mutorwa said development of a new green scheme irrigation project, which was supposed to be in full swing in the Kavango West region, has been delayed, because there are no funds.
Currently, the land set aside for the project remains idle.
The Liselo green scheme irrigation project in Katima is also moving very slowly, and traditional authorities have started asking questions.
The ministry had planned to expand the Etunda Irrigation Scheme near Ruacana, in the Omusati region, but it has had to put these plans on hold.
“The completion of phase seven and eight, which is the water infrastructure of the project, has been hampered because of finance issues,” the minister said.
The Ongwediva National Agriculture Technology Centre, the Ondangwa Central Veterinary Laboratory project in Oshana, as well as the Rundu Abattoir and meat processing plant in the Kavango East region, have also been delayed, due to financial constraints.
Mutorwa criticised those who complain when the country plans to build big water infrastructure projects.
He said the dams currently in operation were built long ago, when the country’s population was much smaller, and thus there is a dire need for new infrastructure.
He said that “zero” water infrastructure projects had been undertaken since independence.
“Every time Government has money to build big infrastructure, people complain. This country will never develop with such a mentality.”
Mutorwa said the water situation is still critical, with the Erongo region in danger of facing water shortages.
“If we do not move fast, we are going to find ourselves in a deeper problem. The total demand for water at the coast is 25 million cubic metres per annum, while currently they receive 20 million cubic metres,” he said.
The minister also reported that there are still some places in Namibia, which do not have access to clean water.
“Many villages have decaying water supply areas, while some still get water from self-dug dams,” he said.
Mutorwa further said that most of the country’s main storage dams are still dangerously low despite the welcome rainfall.