Angolan floating bridge construction halted

15 Jul 2014 20:50pm
RUNDU, 15 JUL (NAMPA) – The construction of a floating bridge by the Angolan Government over the Okavango River has been put on hold.
The bridge has caused uproar among residents and tourism operators at Rundu, who say that once finished, the bridge will obstruct the free movement of boats and other water transportation on that river.
The 250-metre-long bridge is aimed at making it easier for people to move to and from the two countries.
On the Namibian side, the bridge will anchor at Rundu, and Calai in southern Angola.
However, there is no opening on the bridge to allow for traffic on the river, such as fishing boats and canoes.
The construction of the bridge, which started early last month, was put on hold immediately after Namibian media reported about it last week Monday.
The reports followed a a peaceful demonstration by several boat owners, local fishermen and other residents at the site over a week ago to air their grievances.
Efforts by this reporter to get comment as to why the bridge building was put on hold from those Angolan officials stationed at the bridge proved futile, as they are not allowed to talk to the media.
This agency was, however, reliably informed that the Governor of the Cuando-Cubango Province, Ijeno Garneru has apparently ordered the contractor to put the bridge construction on hold until further notice to allow for some 'burning issues' to be ironed out first.
Chairperson of the Kavango Regional Council, Bonny Wakudumo told reporters recently that the council was neither aware of the construction, nor was it consulted on the floating bridge.
Some lodge owners, workers and guests in the region also use the river to access Rundu in times of flooding when some roads become inaccessible.
A member for the Crockango Angling Club in the two Kavango regions, Mauro Rosa told Nampa earlier that if the floating bridge is allowed to continue, recreational fishing would be affected by the bridge.
He said local fishermen pay recreational fishing and boat permits to use the river, but their movement will be restricted with the bridge in place.
“The Fisheries Inspectorate and the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) will also not be able to patrol downstream from the Rundu beach to Calai with their boats,” said Rosa during an earlier interview.
Another concerned resident, Liz Hilger, said the movement of some animals such as hippos will also be blocked.