Giants fall for road safety

The Roads Authority says it does not need a permit to remove protected tree species from the roadside.

23 July 2020 | Agriculture

ELVIRA HATTINGH

WINDHOEK



Despite complaints from members of the Stampriet community, the Roads Authority (RA) says it is within its rights to remove large camelthorn trees along the D1033 dirt road.

The RA also apparently does not need a permit to remove even protected plant species, while it has the mandate to make sure any plants or trees that pose a danger to road users are removed.

RA spokesperson Hileni Fillemon explained they decided to remove the trees after truck drivers complained about struggling to pass them.

She said the trees were growing on the side of the road or over the top of the road.

“To preserve some trees, we decided to just prune them, rather than remove them. It is also important to mention that this road is very winding and the growing trees pose a danger,” Fillemon said.



Trees fed livestock

Landowners sent photos to Namibian Sun's sister newspaper, Republikein, of the trees being felled.

“The camelthorn trees have been there longer than the road and are very big and old. The pods from the trees fed our livestock through the recent drought. People came from far and wide to pick up the pods for their livestock.

“For as far as 30 to 40 kilometres, many trees were felled along the road,” said a landowner who wished to remain anonymous.



Protected species

Concerns have also been raised because the camelthorn tree is a protected species.

However, Fillemon said the RA does not require a permit to remove any vegetation and is authorised in terms of Road Ordinance 17 of 1972 to remove any objects that may be dangerous to road users.

Director of forestry, Joseph Hailwa, agreed that the RA can remove trees if they prove to be a danger to road users, regardless of whether they are protected species or not.

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