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No water available to extinguish destructive fires in Oshikango

No water available to extinguish destructive fires in Oshikango

Placido Hilukilwa
MILLIONS of dollars worth of damage and the destruction of two lodges, as well as several houses at the northern border town of Oshikango in the Helao Nafidi municipal area could have been avoided if the water supply to and in the town had been in good working order.
There was no water in the Helao Nafidi municipal water system due to water restrictions brought on by water rationing measures.
The water restrictions are the result of vital repair work to the water canal at Olushandja that started over the weekend.
According to John Shigwedha, the spokesperson for the Namibia Water Corporation, the water canal that takes most of the water used in the Oshana, Ohangwena, Omusati and Oshikoto regions was vandalised a while ago and the subsequent leak had to be repaired as a matter of urgency. A huge amount of water pumped from the Calueque Dam in Angola was wasted due to the leak in the water canal.
“Namwater had to stop the pumps at the Calueque Dam and pump the water that remained in that part of the water canal at Olushandja out in order to affect repairs. Work to pour new concrete started on Monday and was only completed on Wednesday this week,” he added.
Shigwedha said the newly poured concrete will have to be given a few days to cure properly before the water canal can be used again to take water to Oshakati from where it is distributed, to other towns in the north via a system of pumps pipes.
The damage to the canal at Olushandja occurred after nearby farmers that are badly affected by the current drought situation damaged the canal in order to provide water to their animals.
The drought also caused other problems in the area when the Etaka Dam started to dry up, causing deep muddy patches where cattle and other domesticated animals got stuck and died.
On Wednesday, fire fighters and local residents of Oshikango watched helplessly as a fire that started at the Oshikango Lodge spread to the nearby BH Lodge and other neighbouring buildings destroying everything it touched.
Fire fighters could only use water they had in the tank of their fire truck to try and extinguish the blaze.
Once the reserve tank ran dry, they could do nothing more to stop the blaze because they could not get more water from the municipal fire hydrants.
By the time fire fighters from neighbouring towns arrived on the scene, it was too late because by then most of the damage was already done.
The actual cause of Wednesday’s fire at the two lodges situated about 200 metres apart is still under investigation, according to Ohangwena police spokesperson Kaume Itumba.

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