Millions more for Neckartal

The Neckartal Dam near Keetmanshoop is expected to be finished in the first half of next year after the government made extra funding available.

18 December 2017 | Infrastructure

At least N$1.3 billion will be defrayed from the Infrastructure Development Fund during the 2017/18 financial year for the Neckartal Dam project.

This is according to agriculture minister John Mutorwa, who said if all goes according to plan the Neckartal Dam near Keetmanshoop will be completed during the first half of 2018.

Speaking at the annual general meeting of NamWater, Mutorwa said the ministry had faced a serious shortage of funds to pay contractors and consultants building the Neckartal Dam during September and October.

Following high-level discussions through the Cabinet Committee on Treasury the following recommendations were later endorsed by the cabinet.

The ministry allocated N$155 million from its development budget and NamWater advanced N$600 million guaranteed by the government.

This year, Salini Impregilo SpA, which was awarded the contract to build the dam near Keetmanshoop, stopped operations at the construction site three times because of the government's non-payment.

The agriculture ministry said in October that the cost of building the dam had escalated from N$3.2 billion to N$5.7 billion.

Mutorwa further elaborated on the drought experienced in the country last year.

He said even though Namibia is prone to drought, the country experienced its most devastating drought last year.

“It was during 2016 when the central areas of Namibia including Windhoek were gloomily faced with a clearly distinct and visible possibility of running dry that the indispensable and irreplaceable value of water as a life-giving and life-sustaining commodity came visibly to the fore for all to see, feel and experience,” he said.

He said water is a commodity whose importance is usually taken for granted, particularly when it is available.

According to Mutorwa, the drought experienced during the 2016/17 rainy season resulted in the government through the Cabinet Committee on Treasury instructing NamWater, together with the Cabinet Committee on Water Supply Security, to implement water-related capital projects on an emergency basis.

This is being done in collaboration with the City of Windhoek to guarantee that central Namibia, including Windhoek, does not run dry.

The water capital projects did not have funding from the treasury or from government's drought relief emergency budget of 2016.

“That is how bad and worrisome the situation was at that time,” Mutorwa said.

According to him, Namwater allocated N$235 million with which the Cabinet Committee on Water Supply Security could upgrade the water infrastructure at Kombat and Berg Aukas, the Eastern Water Carrier and the Von Bach Dam ,as well as drilling emergency boreholes in and around Windhoek.

“NamWater was and remains up to today the saviour.”

He added that as per cabinet decision NamWater needs to be refunded for these expenses, at least for water infrastructure that was funded with part of the N$235 million for Windhoek.

“The fact is those assets have virtually become the City of Windhoek's assets; they are and shall remain part and parcel of the City's balance sheet.”

Mutorwa added that the prevailing economic environment in the world, and in Namibia specifically, has made trading conditions quite unfavourable.

For example, the mining industry's demand for water is not generally guaranteed in the foreseeable future as all the mines have been negatively affected by low commodity prices.

Mines are the biggest and more reliable customers of NamWater.

ELLANIE SMIT

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