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Minister hails private initiative

Minister hails private initiative

Gert Jacobie
MINISTER of the Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shiveta, last night thanked the initiators of a massive effort to upgrade the road infrastructure of the popular Etosha National Park.
“Without the kind help of the private sector we do have a hard time keeping up with maintaining the roads in the two big national parks, Etosha and Bwabwata, and this gesture shows what can be done when government and the private sector join forces.
“We have maintenance teams and assets in the parks, but we need more. It is a massive undertaking and come August, we will step up activities. Doing it when the roads are newly graded, will only support our efforts,” he said.
Chris Theron, the initiator of the roads upgrading project, said he earlier received a message from the Minister, thanking him and everybody involved, for their input.

Pictured: Heavy machinery and volunteers lined up to tackle the night shift in the Etosha National Park. Photo: Courtesy of Chris Theron

Currently the team is working with a convoy of road graders and a water bunker on the section between Namutoni and the Halali camps. The next section would be the road to Okakuejo.
According to Theron the reaction of the general public following the progress on Informanté’s Facebook page and other social media, as well as the different radio stations and the printed media, is overwhelmingly positive. Financial contributions, despite lots of economic hardships are streaming in, albeit still far from enough to pay the cost of the machines and fuel, which runs at an average of N$1000 per hour each. The target cost is N$500 000, and it is still a long way off.
Theron maintains that the funds will eventually by enough. “Donors report often and today a local indigenous tour operator paid in N$5000 to our account. He (the tour operator) said it means a lot to his company and clients to be able to make such a contribution. They are happy to be associated with the project.
The upgrading of around 500 kilometres of roads in Etosha will continue for the next ten to twelve days if the team can maintain a tempo of 80 to 100 km’s per night.
The roads are graded to standard gravel road quality during the night with the aid of good quality LED lighting as tourist vehicles are moving in their hundreds up and down the park’s roads during the day.
It is now the start of the tourism high season and thousands of visitors report at the gates of Etosha to enjoy Namibia’s main attraction during the dry season.
Shifeta said constant upgrading and maintenance of Etosha is a perpetual work in progress.

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