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Massive private initiative praised

Massive private initiative praised

Gert Jacobie
The Ministry of the Environment and Tourism this week acknowledged and praised a massive private initiative to upgrade the roads in the Etosha National Park.
In a press release by the chief public relations officer of the Ministry, Romeo Muyanda, hailed the project which started earlier, leaving the entire road between Namutoni camp and Okaukuejo in a much better shape for the thousands of visiting tourists.
The project, that would cost an estimated N$500 000 will continue after the weekend, with the Ministry having contributed by availing manpower and at least two road graders to get the job done, while the rest of the assets and human inputs were donated by the private sector.
According to the initiator of the project, a former employee of both MET and the Ministry of Works, Mr. Chris Theron, more than N$124 000 has been sourced from local donors and companies, while the promise of more is alive and well. Some local construction companies, like Nexus, Brandberg Construction and Maritz Transport made massive contributions in machinery, equipment and other vital support.
Against this background, Minister Pohamba Shifeta earlier promised the announcement of the ‘Friends of the National Parks’ initiative soon.
This initiative is planned to support maintenance efforts in most national parks that are more frequently visited.
Conservation areas under government management are under strain as GRN suffers a dire shortage of funds for the upkeep and further development of these assets, begging the involvement of the private sector.

The full statement reads as follows:

The Ministry wishes to announce to the public of a volunteer initiative by Mr. Chris Theron to mobilize resources from the public and private sector for the upgrade and maintenance of the Etosha National Park Roads
Mr. Theon is a Namibian citizen who is a retired employee of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Ministry of Works and Transport, Roads Authority, and currently a presenter on the Channel 7 private Afrikaans radio station.
The tourist road network in the Etosha National Park consists of one thousand one hundred and twenty-one (1 121) kilometers. Current status of the road network in the park is poor as the Ministry has no sufficient funds to maintain the roads and other infrastructure in National Parks.
The Ministry Therefore welcomes and commends the initiative by Mr. Theron and his team for the much needed assistance. We further applaud all the companies and individual that came through to support this great initiative. The Ministry is overwhelmed by this gesture of patriotism and we call upon the nation at large to emulate this example.
The following companies offered their heavy road equipment and machines consisting of six graders and three water tanker trucks to Etosha National Park for this initiative: Nexus, Brandberg Construction and Maritz Transport Otjiwarongo.
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has made available two of its graders to operate with the current assistance from the private sector.
The Ministry has developed a friend of National Parks initiative which encourages the public and the private sector to offer assistance to the management of the country’s National Parks. The initiative by Mr. Theron and the team therefore falls is in line with the concept to be launched soon.
We call upon any other person or company will be welcome to assist in the maintenance of park infrastructure and other wildlife conservation activities, provided such activities are conducted according to the procedures set by the Ministry, and within the laws of the Republic of Namibia.
Considerable investment is required to maintain and upgrade infrastructure in Namibia’s flagship national parks like Etosha National Park, Namib Naukluft Park, Skeleton Coast Park, Dorob National Park, Bwabwata National Park, Waterberg Plateau Park, and also others.

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