.. but Shifeta says he has a plan
By Kelvin Chiringa
Environment and tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta has expressed deep disappointment at the shambolic state of affairs that have characterized the Zambezi Waterfront, but promised that a plan to bring sanity will be rolled out sometime this year.
The minister did not disclose what this plan was.
“A plan is there to make sure that something is done to these assets and we can start doing something. So it will be announced this year,” he said.
The state entity which is situated in the Zambezi area was taken over and placed under the wings of the Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) sometime in 2014, but its fortunes went bleak thereafter.
It has been closed down by government after allegations of bad management surfaced and this week Shifeta took a shot at it as one of the worst case scenarios in the local tourism space which needed urgent attention.
Government has not been able to reap back profits for the huge investments it has thrown into the project.
Government has pumped in approximately N$200 million for the development of the first phase of the project which included site clearing, bulk earthworks, engineering, infrastructure, construction of the administration building, 15 bungalows and camping sites, conference facilities, and walkways on a piece of land, measuring approximately 22 hectares.
“The park is slowly becoming a white elephant, as only caretakers who are maintaining the facilities can be found on-site. Some of the facilities, particularly bungalows, are deteriorating due to the lack of maintenance. The facilities have also been encroached by trees, and snakes are now reportedly breeding in them,” a local daily reported last year.
Shifeta said the construction of some of the buildings was done wrong and a new consultant will have to be employed to re-engineer it.
“There are so many problems and we are saying for the time being we will see what we can do but we have a plan for it this year. The way infrastructures were put down, our investments as a shareholder, too much over-capitalised but we could not get anything.
“Up to now the buildings are not complete. One of the buildings was put on top of the main water-pipe from the river. Now the sewage system is completely (bad). We have to get another consultant to get into it. So everything is not well. So we will come to a decision one day,” said the minister.
Shifeta said what his ministry is waiting for now is the transfer of the land to the company because right now it has no land except the infrastructure.
“They put the infrastructure on land that does not belong to them. So once that is done, definitely we will have a plan for that and we are going to announce. But it depends also on what will happen,’ he said.
The land problems is however bigger than that.
“The erf that was allocated to the company, there are some people who are claiming plots there. Now that complicated matters and that has to be resolved. They brought some individuals who are claiming some plots there,” said the minister.
In the meantime, Shifeta has recycled the same board for NWR which he praised for improving the situation for the entity typified by a reduction in losses.
He emphasized that the board will continue to work independent of ministerial orders except where guidance is needed.
He however said if anything were to go wrong, the fault will be not on the ministry but the board of directors.
“The boards of state entities are not being interfered with by the ministers of tourism and state owned enterprises. They have unfettered decisions and to steer the company and that is what we want.
So there will be no interference because the board is a fiduciary duty.
Whatever goes well or wrong, it is the board of directors. So we are all outsiders. We do not want to twist your arm or restrain you but of course we will give direction,” said the minister.