By: Nghiinomenwa Erastus
So far, of the 5 000 ha targeted for agricultural production, by utilising the Neckartal Dam water, 3 800 ha have been acquired to date.
Efforts are underway to secure the remaining 1200 ha, according to the update of the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, Calle Schlettwein, last month.
The ministry has finally provided some updates last month through a statement after the public crucified the government for investing in a huge infrastructure without a strategy to utilise commercially.
Added to the fire were opposition leaders who questioned the government’s lack of action to utilise the body of water collected.
Moreover, there were also issues that the government wanted land that belonged to a private individual and needed to be bought.
Schlettwein confirmed to The Villager yesterday that they have acquired the 3 800 ha land to be used.
He explained that the Neckartal Dam Project was planned to be implemented in two phases: the actual construction of the Dam (Phase I) and the development of the irrigation project around the Dam for agricultural production purposes (Phase II).
Phase 2 of Neckartal Dam started with the feasibility study of the irrigation scheme component, which was completed in 2010.
The primary outcome of this study was the identification of the 5 000 hectares for irrigation development.
The envisaged crops identified for production under the 5 000 hectares includes, amongst others, dates, grapes, grains, horticulture, and lucerne.
An investigation to establish the size of an economic farming unit was done, and the recommended farm size is 50 and 100 ha units, depending on the type of crops to be produced.
Consequently, implementation of the feasibility study focused on soil investigation, crop selection, farm sizing study, irrigation farm layout, irrigation systems, site drainage and ancillary services (houses, electricity, sanitation, roads and potable water).
“The ministry is happy to inform the Namibian Public that activities for the implementation of Neckartal Dam Phase II have started,” wrote Schlettwein.
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The government had planned to develop Phase II of the Neckartal Irrigation project with its resources.
However, this is no longer possible with the government fiscal position, confirmed Schlettwein.
Private investment will be required to operationalise the envisaged projects in documents- adding to the list of projects the government is backing out and allowing the private sector to run.
“It is for these reasons that the government decided to implement Phase II through the Public-Private Partnership Unit,” he said.
In this regard, the agriculture ministry, in conjunction with the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Unit at the finance ministry, has initiated the process to operationalise the Neckartal Dam Irrigation Project.
According to the updates, the process commenced with the ministry registering the project with the PPP Unit and providing a dossier of all relevant documents pertaining to the project.
This includes feasibility studies, environmental impact assessment, detailed design and cost estimates, scoping reports and specialised studies (geotechnical, ecological, hydrological, etc.).
These studies, including detailed designs and cost estimates, were conducted by Knight Piésold Namibia, a private sector company.
The PPP Unit subsequently issued the ministry with a Project Information Template (PIT), a preliminary project viability appraisal document.
The PIT was completed and submitted to the PPP Unit in September 2021.
According to Schlettwein, the PIT is the first step required by the PPP Unit in initiating the process of implementing a project using the PPP modality.
The PIT involves various steps that lead to the appointment of the PPP partner, such as screening the project for PPP suitability in terms of scope and size of the project.
The procurement of Transactional Advisor and Environmental Consultants in line with the Public Procurement Act, review of the feasibility study, Environmental Impact Assessment and acquisition of Environmental Clearance Certificate.
Revision and/or development of detailed design and cost estimates of the project, prepare bid documents, and submission of bid documents to PPP committee for approval.
Then advertisement of the project bids will be followed by evaluation of proposals and selection of preferred bidders, and contract negotiation and award.
According to Schlettwein, the PPP Unit is currently busy with the first step, screening the project for PPP suitability. All the other activities, as mentioned earlier, will follow suit.
The timeframes of the activities will be communicated to the public once the PPP Unit has concluded the screening process.
It is anticipated that the process will be concluded as quickly as possible so that the project can be put under production during the 2022/2023 financial year.