Ministry opts for cheaper Etosha fence

Eyes N$172.8 million project budget

12 December 2018 | Environment

The environment ministry has started reviewing the design of a predator- and elephant-proof fence around Etosha National Park to reduce the cost of construction.

New projections indicate that it may cost only N$172.8 million to complete the remaining 720 km with a “simplified” fence.

The original estimate for the remainder of the fence was about N$1.8 billion.

The spokesperson for the environment ministry, Romeo Muyunda, says the daunting estimate has contributed to the delay in completing the fence. Only 120 km of the 842 km park boundary has been fenced so far.

According to Muyunda the fence the ministry has been working on for the past ten years is “over-designed” and therefore the cost of construction is too high.

The ministry has therefore decided to simplify the specifications.

According to Muyunda the ministry has been trying to find an alternative design that is affordable without compromising on the quality and effectiveness of the fence.

“We have assessed different facilities on private farms and game ranches in Namibia and South Africa that have big game such as rhino, elephants, lions, buffalos and hyaenas in our quest to find a suitable design.”

Muyunda says the ministry decided to develop a design that incorporates specifications from all the places that were assessed.

“Our projections indicate that the simplified fence may cost approximately N$240 000 per kilometre or even lower, inclusive of material and labour and subject to the terrain.”

He says consultants will be appointed to do the costing, design, documentation and supervision of the project.

The estimated amount still needs to be verified once a feasibility study is conducted on the new fence design.

Muyunda says Etosha is Namibia's flagship park and therefore the fence needs to be completed to enhance conservation.

“The fence will assist in reducing poaching and human-wildlife conflict cases, which may have escalated due to the poor state of the fence.”

The ministry has rejected any suggestions that individuals in the ministry have corruptly benefited from the fence project.

“Baseless assumptions will deter us from attending to real issues as per our mandate that is entrusted upon us by the citizens of the country,” says Muyunda.

Namibian Sun recently reported that the Etosha boundary fence would cost about N$1.8 billion to complete.

This was contained in a report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Natural Resources, who undertook a fact-finding mission to Etosha at the end of May.

According to the committee N$176 million has been budgeted for the completion of the fence since the 2012/13 financial year. However, with a mere N$12 million budgeted in 2017/18, the committee pointed out that the budget allocations were inadequate.

The report said that although 118 km of the fence had been upgraded, sections had to be redone due to a lack of maintenance.

According to the report there are only 30 employees to maintain the fence.

ELLANIE SMIT