WINDHOEK, APR. 16 – The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) earlier disassociated itself from an article that ran in a local weekly with the headline “Government in Neckartal boob.”
A statement issued by Permanent Secretary Percy Misika implies that the tender for the Construction of the Neckartal Dam and Phase 1 Bulk Water Supply Project was done above board, reiterating that it was public knowledge that the award of the tender was from the onset administered by the MAWF through the Tender Board as per its mandate. This was done following proper procurement procedures, according to MAWF, who also took full responsibility and accountability of the whole procurement cycle for the construction of the Dam.
“The MAWF therefore, strongly distances itself from the comments by the author making reference to H.E. the Former President Hifikipunye Pohamba which the ministry views as not factual and therefore misleading. Furthermore, the author makes reference to “an envisaged 5,000-hectare irrigation project… the camp where the workers’ settlement is situated,” read a statement from the Ministry.
A social and environmental impact assessment found that 14 households (occupying about 3900 ha. of grazing land within the area of inundation) would be inundated once the dam started impounding water, according to the Ministry. Thereafter, it was decided to negotiate with the communal farmers with a view
to either resettle them on commercial farms under the Ministry of Land Reform’s resettlement programme or to relocate them within the Berseba
Traditional Authority area of jurisdiction.
“Since the Berseba Traditional Authority area was found to be already over utilized, it was deemed prudent to resettle some of the larger farmers in order to ensure that adequate grazing would remain available for the remaining subsistence farmers in the area.”
The assessment, according to Misika, identified eighteen (18) communal farmers that required resettlement/relocation, whose compensation amount was determined by the Land Valuer General of the Ministry of Land Reform at N$ 955,727.16.
“The 18 communal farmers have since been successfully relocated/ resettled and paid under the Compensation Policy Guidelines for Communal Land as
approved in terms of Cabinet Decision No.17th/15.09.09/003.”
He said the dam will be developed to supply water for an irrigation scheme of about 5,000 hectares.
“While the dam itself will be constructed in the Berseba Communal Land, most of the suitable irrigation land was found to be located on commercial farms downstream of the dam. The 5,000 hectares of suitable irrigation land was found to be located on nine (9) commercial farms. The MAWF engaged in successful negotiations with these affected farmers.”
The farmers were offered a purchase price of N$ 625/ha for the irrigation land, and according to the Ministry, the purchase agreement between the affected farmers and the Ministry of Works, on behalf of MAWF, has been concluded.
The total irrigation land to be purchased is valued at N$ 3,101,250.00.
Explaining about the land where the Contractor’s camp is established, Misika noted that the tender for the Construction of the Neckartal Dam (Tender
F1/18/2-1/2012) gave the authority to the bidders to establish the contractor’s camp anywhere they wished.
“Hence the location of the camp site was ultimately decided by the Contractor and subsequently an agreement between the contractor and the farm owner where the camp is located was signed during the tendering stage.”
He added: “Given the strategic position of the camp site and the infrastructure that was constructed thereon, it is the view of the Ministry and that of the Office of the Attorney General (AG) that the Government should engage the farm owner with a view to purchasing that portion of the farm. The Ministry is
currently in the process of engaging the concerned parties with a view to initiating negotiations for the procurement of the camp site.”