Ministry apologises for delays at Oshivelo

01 Sep 2015 18:20pm
WINDHOEK, 01 SEP (NAMPA) – Contingency measures have been put in place at the Oshivelo checkpoint to prevent further delays for road users due to the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak in Namibia.
In a media statement issued on Tuesday by the acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Abraham Nehemia, the ministry apologised to motorists and passengers who were delayed at the Oshivelo veterinary checkpoint in the Oshikoto Region on Sunday.
It said the reason for the delay was mainly attributable to the huge numbers of travellers returning from school holidays, the Ongwediva Annual Trade Fair and the Olufuko Festival. Whilst this phenomenon is expected at this time of the year, it was compounded by the control measures that were introduced to contain the spread of FMD in the Northern Communal Areas (NCA).
The statement said about 60 per cent of motorists using the road used the veterinary check point at Oshivelo between 07h00 and 20h00 that day, which resulted in the congestion at the checkpoint. The Verda and Bravo checkpoints were in the meantime under-utilised.
The statement said the ministry’s cardinal objective with this intervention is to prevent the transmission of FMD through the food, clothes or vehicles returning from the NCA and causing an outbreak elsewhere in the country.
“We cannot over-emphasise the importance of this disease and the devastating effect it has and may have on the economy and livelihood of the farming communities of our country. We therefore appreciate the patience and understanding of the public and continue to ask for your maximum cooperation and understanding during the control of this outbreak,” the statement said.
Each vehicle and its occupants were expected to subject themselves to search and disinfection procedures as prescribed by the Animal Health Act (Act 1 of 2011), which increased the time it normally takes a vehicle to pass the checkpoint when there is no FMD outbreak. This alerting and returning to vehicles caused more delays as not all members of the public promptly returned to their vehicles in order to make space for other vehicles in the queue.
The situation normalised on Tuesday and vehicles are passing the checkpoints with minimal delays.
The ministry gave its assurance that it is looking at several medium and long-term measures in anticipation of the upcoming festive season if there is no change in the FMD situation.