THE proliferation of illegal off-takes along the canal has become a major concern as NamWater is now struggling to get sufficient water to the Oshakati treatment plant.
Minister of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform Calle Schlettwein made the remarks on Saturday during the groundbreaking of the Omahenene-Olushandja canal, saying that as the bulk of water it pumps from Calueque Dam is used up by the farmers before it reaches the treatment plant.
Schlettwein stated that NamWater spends millions of dollars for electricity to pump water into the canal from Calueque Dam, but loses a lot of water to evaporation and lately increasingly so to illegal off-takes by farmers who have set up irrigation gardens along the canal.
He noted that it is even more concerning that NamWater through government funding is in the process of doubling up the capacity of the Oshakati treatment plant and it will spend possibly close to N$500 million on that project, but the new plant may not be in a position to receive sufficient water to treat if losses from the canal continue.
“While the government encourages food production and is given hope by the uptake of farming in the region, pumping of water from the canal needs to be regulated and controlled so that we maintain equitable water supply services to all the users,” he said.
The canal has a design capacity starting at 10 cubic metres per second for the first section and ending at 1.3 cubic metres per second at Oshakati.
Schlettwein also used the opportunity to ask community members along the canal to refrain from vandalising the canal. He said some do it deliberately either to make it easy to catch fish or enable water to flow into nearby ponds for livestock to drink with ease.
“Such practice needs to stop and I urge NamWater to work with law enforcement agencies so that such culprit can be brought to book,” he said.
The rehabilitating of the Omahenene-Olushandja canal was awarded to two contractors of which Section A was awarded to Radial Truss Industries in a joint venture with Imperative construction and Engineering and Section B was awarded to Brumar construction.
The two sections measuring 5.8 km will be reconstructed at a combined cost of N$93.5 million.
Schlettwein stated that the contractors are expected to reconstruct this piece of infrastructure and restore it to its original design so that it can continue to serve the people for many more years to come.
He urged the contractors to give quality work so that this canal can last for even longer than the 49 years that it has been in existence.
NamWater operates four treatment plants that treat this water to make it safe for human consumption and these plants are located at Olushandja, Outapi, Ogongo, and Oshakati.
Omusati Regional Governor Erginus Endjala said the rehabilitation of the Omahenene-Olushandja canal has been long overdue as it plays a vital role in livelihoods in the Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshana, and Oshikoto regions.
Endjala explained that the canal provides water both for people and livestock and also drew water for green scheme usage.
He urged the communities that benefit from the canal to maintain and avoid vandalising it.
Endjala pointed out that the Omahenene-Olushandja canal was inaugurated first back in 1972.