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Back to square one for Walvis Bay

Back to square one for Walvis Bay

Niël Terblanché

NAMIBIA joined seven other countries in the world where hard lockdown measures were reintroduced in certain areas to contain a sudden spike in new COVID-19 cases after an initial relaxation was allowed under Stage 2 of the State of Emergency.


China, Germany, Iran, South Korea, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Japan and now Namibia all reinstated partial but strict lockdown measures.


Like Namibia with the local authority area of Walvis Bay, the renewed lockdowns were limited to districts where the virus has spiked.


The port of Walvis Bay has remained open for business throughout the hard lockdown introduced locally and around the globe during March this year to keep supply lines to and from Namibia’s landlocked neighbours open.


Although the port is small in comparison to other major harbours on Africa’s Atlantic seaboard, the quick turn-around times achieved with vessels docked at the new container terminal and its relative closeness to markets in the Americas and Europe has made it one of the most competitive ports on the West African coast.


Although residents of Walvis Bay and its satellite residential areas of Long Beach, Dolphin Beach and Afrodite Beach have gone back to square one under the firm lockdown measures of Stage 1 of the State of Emergency, the modalities of how they will get to and from work still need to be worked out.


Walvis Bay Namibia world hard lockdown COVID-19
HUGE TASK: Erongo Regional Governor, Neville Andre stated that modalities for hard lockdown in Walvis Bay still need to be finalised. – Photo: Niël Terblanché


Many people who reside in Walvis Bay work in Swakopmund and vice versa, and under the hard lockdown regulations, only people that are deemed to provide essential services will be allowed out of their homes.


The Erongo Regional Governor, Neville Andre, indicated that in the interim, people who have applied for and received essential service certificates will be allowed to use those documents to travel to work and back.


“The Regional Emergency and Risk Management Committee will meet first thing on Friday morning where these modalities will be worked out with stakeholders such as health authorities and representatives from the security cluster,” he said.


Andre said that other issues such as the rules regulating street vendors and other life sustaining economic activities will also be discussed during the meeting.


The Regional Governor indicated that the resolutions reached during the meeting will be communicated with the public before lunchtime on Friday.


President Hage Geingob, during a briefing from the Situation Room at State House on Thursday, maintained that the health of Namibians remains the country’s first priority.


“Government acknowledges that actions taken to strike a balance between protecting the lives and livelihoods of Namibians has been challenging for business, workers and households, alike. These have not been easy decisions, however, they have been taken in good faith, to safeguard Namibian lives for today and tomorrow,” the President explained.


The return to Stage 1 of the State of Emergency of the local authority area of Walvis Bay comes after the two latest cases diagnosed with COVID-19 in Namibia were registered at the harbour town.


Dr. Kalumbi Shangula, the Minister of Health and Social Services, during the briefing at State House stated that both cases had contact with more than a hundred people before they were placed under supervised isolation.


He said that all the contacts will have to be traced and assessed overtime before Walvis Bay will be allowed to progress back to the next stage.


“Experience has shown that more cases are recorded after the easing of restrictions as people celebrate the new-found freedom. We must guard against this temptation as this can easily erode the achievements were have scored,” Shangula said with regard to the rest of Namibia progressing to Stage 3.


He called on all Namibians to continue to cooperate and observe the measures that are in place for their own health safety and health benefits.


“Going forward, the Ministry of Health and Social Services shall continue to strengthen surveillance; upscale expanded targeted testing; conduct prudent case management; strengthen and enforce preventive measures and finally promote international solidarity.


Dr. Shangula again requested Namibians to have confidence in institutions, systems and processes.


“This is the recipe for our success,” he concluded.


In the meantime Inspector Ileni Shapumba, Commander of the Community Affairs Division of the Namibian Police in the Erongo Region stated that no travelling out of the local authority area without a valid permit will be allowed.


“We should be considerate of others. We should interrogate the reason why Walvis Bay was placed on lockdown again and take it from there. Please stay at home,” Inspector Shapumba implored residents.


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