Etosha to get N$53.7m facelift

14 November 2018 | Environment

The previously loss-making Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR), which recorded a N$14.6 million profit last year, has unveiled a plan to renovate its dilapidated facilities in Etosha National Park.

This is the first time that NWR has made a profit.

Serious problems at some NWR resorts, especially in Etosha, were highlighted in a report compiled by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Natural Resources.

Among other issues raised by the committee was the incomplete Etosha boundary fence, for which more than N$1.8 billion is needed.

The committee visited the Etosha National Park and the Khorixas Rest Camp from 27 May to 1 June this year to inspect the park fence and to assess the utilisation of project funds at NWR establishments.

Appearing before the committee yesterday, NWR's managing director Zelna Hengari announced that it had budgeted N$53.7 million for renovations in the 2019 financial year.

Committee chairperson Sofia Swartz said they were shocked by the deterioration of facilities in Etosha.

The committee's report said the electricity distribution board at the Okaukuejo Camp was too small and needed upgrading to accommodate higher voltage. In the event of power failures the generator does not automatically switch on.

Another problem at Okaukuejo is that leaky underground water pipes must be replaced. Fire-fighting equipment has been out of order for two years and there is not enough staff housing, which means that staff are living in guest rooms.

Some staff houses are too old and overcrowded. The committee said it visited a three-bedroom house called 'Big Brother', which accommodated up to 12 people at the time.

The swimming pool at Okaukuejo has been out of order since February this year, while the sewerage system is too small and cannot accommodate additional toilet facilities if the campsite is to be extended.

According to Hengari N$2.5 million is budgeted for renovating 50 staff houses, N$475 000 for the sewage system and N$750 000 for a larger conferencing facility.

At Namutoni, the committee found that the Fort needs urgent refurbishment and more rooms are needed in order to increase revenue. It also said that staff accommodation should be moved, as it is too close to the tourist accommodation.

“Although the infrastructure was revamped in 2007 the underground pipes and fittings were never refurbished and are subjected to frequent bursts and leakages and therefore need to be replaced,” the report states. There is also a need to upgrade bush toilets and picnic sites, while the standby power generator and distribution board need to be overhauled.

There is also no water connection to the camp and water has to be fetched daily. Although a borehole has been drilled in the vicinity, the water is too salty to drink. Another problem is that the wooden deck at the camp is old and there is fear of injury.

Hengari said N$20 million is budgeted for upgrading the Fort and other ageing infrastructure at Namutoni in the 2019 financial year. Staff accommodation will be upgraded in the long term plan, while a renewable-energy solution will be sought to solve the problem with the generator.

Since the establishment of the Onkoshi Camp in 2008 it has not been connected to the national power grid. A generator is rented at a cost of N$55 000 per month, on top of a weekly diesel bill of N$10 000.

The generator does not supply enough electricity and tourists are unable to use electric kettles in their rooms. Hengari said N$400 000 was budgeted for fixing the wooden deck at Onkoshi and N$250 000 to renovate the thatched roofs.

At the Dolomite Camp, problems include a parking area that is too far from the reception and accommodation facilities. The walking deck needs renovation and the septic tanks are built underneath the rooms, which makes repairs difficult.

Hengari said N$1.5 million was earmarked for all canvas and thatch replacements at Dolomite. A further N$348 000 was approved for replacing the decking. The parking area and septic tanks are part of the long-term plan.

Regarding the Khorixas Rest Camp, Hengari said that had been converted into a training school that would open next year. The lodge will still be open to the public and will be catered to by students.

Hengari said in 2013 when she took over as MD the company made a loss of more than N$36.9 million. Last year it declared a profit of more than N$14.6 million.

According to her the NWR made more than N$400 million in revenue last year, up from N$250 million in 2013. She said revenue in Etosha has been growing. Since 2005 revenue at Okaukuejo has increased from nearly N$28 000 to about N$93 000 last year.

Swartz said the report will be tabled and debated in parliament, along with the committee's recommendations.

ELLANIE SMIT

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