Excavation of Fish River starts at Mariental

15 Jun 2013 10:50
MARIENTAL, 15 JUN (NAMPA) ? The Mariental Flood Task Force (MFTF) last week started excavating the Fish River near the town in an effort to prevent flooding during rainy seasons.
This is a pilot project funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) at a cost of N.dollars 12 million.
The excavation entails removing sand and rocks from the riverbed to restore its original flow. Such sand and rocks were responsible for diverting water from the river to flood parts of the town during rainy seasons.
The Fish River which flows in a southerly direction past the town caused severe flooding in the western side of the town on a number of occasions. After persistent rain during February 2006, the Hardap Dam's sluices had to be opened and severe flooding occurred on the weekend of 25 to 26 February 2006.
An estimated 200 people from informal settlements in Mariental - mostly pensioners, farm labourers and children - were again affected by floods in 2012.
Speaking to Nampa at the site on Thursday, chairperson of the MFTF, Chris Nel, said the project aims to clean one kilometre of the riverbed and make it 150m wide within four months? time.
So far, 100m of the river had been cleared, which according to Nel is good progress.
Nel said the project is very important in ensuring that such flooding disasters do not occur again.
?It is a very exciting project, and the community is very happy that it is finally in motion. We, therefore, seize the opportunity to thank the ministry for the funding.
Efforts to stop the flooding really change the mindset of businesspeople to invest in this town,? he said.
Nel noted that once the pilot phase is completed and successful, the task force will approach the line ministry for more funding so that they can clean an extra kilometre just to make sure the flooding is permanently avoided.
Asked how many people are employed by the project from Mariental, Nel said there are only five people working at the site now, because most of the work is done by machines.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture Lempy Lucas, who was on a familialisation tour to Hardap, also visited the site on Thursday and advised that the work be finished within the shortest possible time before the rain comes.
Apart from restoring the river to its original structure, the task force lobbies insurance companies to insure for flood damages.
The task force also plan to raise the Hardap Dam wall to avoid flooding when it overflows.