Holes emerge in lockdown plan

The police are getting air patrols off the ground to monitor movement along these routes, as they are concerned that corona-infected South Africans could use them to enter Khomas and Erongo.

01 April 2020 | Disasters

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK

With law-enforcement agencies having their hands full monitoring entry into the locked-down Erongo and Khomas regions, an oversight has led to the different routes to and from the Namib-Naukluft National Park being left wide open to traffic.

Despite the lockdown measures, citizens in the southwestern part of the country have continued travelling into Windhoek and Erongo.

According to a farmer at Rietoog, a settlement just over 50 kilometres from Solitaire, the traffic has been very busy for the last four days.

“You would think people do not know about the lockdown; they are just moving as if nothing happened. We even had a loaded tourist bus passing by here over the weekend,” he said.

Solitaire is situated in a sparsely populated area close to the Namib-Naukluft Park at the crossing of two important roads, the C14 from Walvis Bay to Bethanie and the C24 from Rehoboth to Sossusvlei.

Both Okahandja and Rehoboth have been included in the Khomas Region for the purposes of the lockdown that took effect a minute after midnight on Friday.

Police worried

The Khomas police commander, Commissioner Joseph Shikongo, yesterday confirmed to Namibian Sun that they are worried about these Namib-Naukluft National Park routes and are in the process of getting air patrols off the ground to monitor movement.

“We are even worried that someone who is infected could come from South Africa through these routes. I have taken notice of this concern. You have raised a very important issue, but we also do not really want to disrupt people who need to come for medical treatment,” he said.

The Hardap regional police commander, Commissioner Joseph Gaeseb, said he only received instruction to monitor these routes after Namibian Sun made inquiries.

According to him temporary and sporadic roadblocks will now be set up at Rehoboth and Klein-Aub.

“There were supposed to be sporadic checkpoints from time to time but we really have other important matters as well, so it can only be temporary,” he said.

Uncoordinated

Meanwhile, the flow of goods and services to Namibia from neighbouring South Africa has been severely affected, as trucks were delayed at border posts and lockdown checkpoints on the way to Windhoek.

To ensure truck drivers are quarantined, they are brought into Windhoek in groups, under the supervision of traffic officers.

On Saturday, the president had to personally brief truckers who had arrived in the country that day.

Contact tracing

Meanwhile, authorities are trying to track down all who have been in contact with three Namibians who are the latest coronavirus cases in the country. The health ministry on Saturday announced that the confirmed cases had increased to 11 and were all travel-related.

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