HIPO initiates talks on Baynes with indigenous communities

27 Jun 2013 06:50
OPUWO, 27 JUN (NAMPA) - The Hizetjitwa Indigenous People?s Organisation (HIPO) in the Kunene Region has invited 100 traditional leaders to an open discussion on the construction of the Baynes hydropower plant.
HIPO Executive Director Tjinezuma Kavari told Nampa on Wednesday the organisation needs to hear from people what their demands and wishes are with regards to the hydropower station.
The meeting is set to take place on 02 July this year at Opuwo.
?HIPO represents the indigenous people of Kunene who will be affected by the development, so we need to know as an organisation and speak on behalf of the community,? said Kavari.
The proposed Baynes project will comprise a hydropower plant on the Kunene River, 40 kilometres downstream of the Epupa Falls.
The HIPO Executive Director said the organisation can only pronounce itself on the hydropower station after it had created platforms of discussion with the community on the matter.
?This will be our first consultation and information-sharing meeting on the subject,? he noted.
The traditional leaders invited to the meeting are from HIPO?s areas of operation, which include the Epupa, Opuwo, Sesfontein and Ruacana Constituencies.
Besides the traditional leaders, the regional councillors of the three constituencies have also been invited to form part of the meeting.
Opuwo Constituency Councillor Kazeongere Tjeundo on Wednesday confirmed that he would attend.
The Governor of the Kunene Region, Josua //Hoebeb has previously called on the regional council to ?create dialogue? on the construction of the hydropower station in the region, and to consult all inhabitants of the Kunene Region, instead of leaving the issue in the hands of a handful of people.
The councillor of the Epupa Constituency, Nguzu Muharukua in local English daily The Namibian earlier this month also called on Government to listen to the indigenous people who live in the surroundings of the proposed site of the hydropower plant.
The Baynes hydropower plant is a joint project between the governments of Namibia and Angola.
The N.dollars 13,8 billion project is expected to be running by 2021.
In the late 1980s, Swawek (now NamPower) forecasted an increasing demand for power in Namibia and began to consider the construction of a hydropower scheme in the vicinity of the Epupa Falls area.
The proposed Baynes project will comprise a hydropower plant on the Kunene River with an installed capacity of about 465 megawatt (MW) and an average energy production of 171MW.
The indigenous community in the Kunene Region have been opposed to the idea since it was initiated.
Concerns are amongst others that a valley of 5 900 hectares, which is extensively used by farmers and herders, will be flooded; while it is expected that archaeological sites and seven grave sites would also have to be exhumed and relocated.
Concern has also been raised by the OvaHimba community in the Baynes area that they would not benefit from the project as they do not need electricity, and they also fear that big numbers of people would settle in the area, leaving them with little land for grazing for their livestock.