The environment and tourism ministry will spend N$71 million on the rehabilitation of roads in the Etosha National Park.
In response to allegations that the park is in disarray with roads and other facilities in terrible conditions, the ministry said that the roads in the park are in good condition, with the majority of them being rehabilitated and maintained continuously.
“To date, we have completed 195 kilometres of road distance, especially the western side of the park. In the next phase the ministry is going to spend over N$71 million to further rehabilitate the roads in the park,” said Romeo Muyunda, the ministry’s spokesperson.
Muyunda said the ministry, together with relevant stakeholders, have invested large sums of money in the maintenance and rehabilitation of the roads in the park, but admitted that there are some sections of the park where the roads are not in good condition due to graders that are undergoing repair.
He further said that the water holes in the park are being maintained and that there are instances where water is not being pumped properly due to technical hitches.
The ministry also dismissed asunfounded allegations that forest officials do not respond to fires in the park.
“We would like to deny this and reject it with the condemnation it deserves that all the fires that have burned in Etosha have been suppressed by our staff members and there has not been any fire in the last 30 days. The allegations are really unfounded,” Muyunda countered.
The ministry is currently constructing an 86-kilometre stretch of road from Ozonjuitji m’Bari to Okaukuejo which is expected to cost N$71.3 million.
At the same time the ministry says that it is also facilitating the implementation of a recent cabinet-approved road maintenance strategy to cater for other road sections totalling 213 kilometres.The road construction project includes a low-volume seal road emergency borehole drilling and infrastructure for borehole pumping.
In 2019 the First National Bank (FNB) Tourism Division donated N$10,000 toward the Etosha road project aimed at grading, rippingand, if needed, filling roads in the park for the benefit of the hundreds of tourists travelling the area daily.
In 2020, the ministry appointed contractors to re-gravel the road network in the park which had been posing a perennial headache to tourists and other park users.
At that time the environment minister Pohamba Shifeta during an assessment of the park’s road network said his office had received numerous complaints since 2018 about the deteriorating condition of the roads within the park from tourists and tourism operators.
Shifeta had said the ministry then took decisive action to repair and regravel the roads that stretch over 140 kilometres on the eastern part of the park.
“The road was bad. I travelled on this road myself. I can testify that you couldn’t drive 20 or 30 km per hour. Tourists have on numerous occasions complained about the bad network to the point that they stopped travelling on it,” he said.
Shifeta said this prompted the government to appoint contractors to work on the damaged roads.
Etosha has a road network of over 2000km.