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Namibia: Floods ruin northern roads

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New Era
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OLUPAKA - Floods have swept away large swathes of gravel roads in the north, particularly in the Oshana and Omusati regions, rendering most of them impassable.

The Olupaka and Onesi main road in the Omusati Region has been severely damaged at four different places.

Councillors of both Outapi and Onesi officially announced the closure of the road to motorists until further notice.

According to locals, Omusati Governor, Sacky Kayone, visited the site.

People are complaining that there are not enough culverts for water to pass through.

"Look at this oshana, the water is supposed to run through easily, but they only put one small pipe, which is not enough for the water to run through.

"Some local people here help the water pass through by damaging the road," said Elungu Theobarde Shanghuma, a resident of Olupaka.

He complained that his father's house was completely submerged. That is why he damaged the road to divert water from their homestead.

"I hope you have seen how much damage was done to my father's property. We have lost too much, including our mahangu, because our omashisha has been damaged by water for the first time in many years," Shanghuma said. Omashisha is plural for a traditional granary.

He said after diverting the water, his father's house is now less flooded.

"Apart from here, this road has been broken by water three times from here to Onesi. I mean four times altogether," another young man said.

Erwin Neumbo said this in response to a question on whether people could still use the same road to Onesi.

Negumbo supported Shanghuma's view that there should be more culverts or even a big bridge to allow water to run through easily.

"We do things which cause inconvenience every year. We want something which lasts and not put other people in trouble like what happened to Shanghuma's father's house, which went under water because of this small pipe which they put in here," he said.

"What a poor road for poor people," he lamented.

Okalongo-Outapi road was also damaged severely by floodwater. According to the local people, the road is damaged at 10 different places.

"There is no road to Okalongo from Outapi. It is cut into 10 pieces by the water. We will be in trouble if more rain falls in the coming weeks," one of the local people, who refused to give his name, said.

Meanwhile, the Oshakati-Ompundja road has also collapsed entirely.

The gravel road, which was still under construction, has been washed away and road users accuse the contractor of using poor materials on the road.

Although the road was not completely washed away, it is just a matter of days before the link between Oshakati and Ompundja is totally cut off.

Councillor for Oshakati East, Lot Kuushomwa, said the Oshakati-Ompundja road is worse, as water is now flowing over the gravel road.

"Contractors are at the site but they are not working. The place where they were taking sand for construction is surrounded by water. The tractors cannot go through," said Kuushomwa.

The Oshakati-Ompundja road was the remaining link for the people of Ompundja and neighbouring villages after the Eheke-Ondangwa gravel road was washed away at the beginning of the rainy season.

"There is just no other alternative. We are in trouble," said Kuushomwa.

Kuushomwa agreed with the road users, who suggested that the quality of work done on the roads was sub-standard, confirming what President Hifikepunye Pohamba said during a recent visit when he bemoaned poor workmanship and sub-standard work by contractors only concerned with profit.

According to Kuushomwa, the culverts were placed at wrong places.

"They did not place them at the places where the water could flow. They placed them at places where there is shallow water," said Kuushomwa.