Neckartal Dam irrigation scheme plans up in the air

08 May 2019 10:20am
By Suzith Tjitaura
KEETMANSHOOP, 08 MAY (NAMPA) – The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) says it will lease the Neckartal Dam irrigation scheme located in the //Kharas Region on a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis.
BOT is an agreement between a private company and Government, which commits the private company to build and operate a facility for a period of time, then transfer ownership to the government.
Neckartal Dam is located in the Berseba Constituency and its construction started in 2013. Salini Impregilo, an Italian company was awarded the tender (initially budgeted at N.dollars 3.2 billion) to build the dam that will cost Namibia over N.dollars 5.7 billion once completed, and will supply water to a 5 000 hectare irrigation scheme.
To date, the ministry has failed to inform the nation on the future plans for the dam or the irrigation scheme.
Speaking recently at the eighth annual festival of the /Hai-/Khaua of Berseba, Chief Johannes Isaak demanded that Government accelerate phase two of the dam (irrigation scheme) and that job opportunities should be granted to the local inhabitants, not just as employees but as owners of some of the agricultural plots.
Approached for comment on the matter, //Kharas Governor Lucia Basson said the ministry has never enlightened her on the plans or how it will go about the implementation of the second phase of the dam.
She added that farmers all over the region are calling her office and asking when the second phase will commence.
“I do not know anything, I am looking for the minister himself to ask him what the way forward is, but I am failing to reach him. Many people who are interested in the irrigation scheme have approached me but I have no answer for them,” she said.
Responding to questions sent by this news agency, MAWF Executive Director Percy Misika indicated that the tendering process will be done like any normal BOT government tender.
This process will include the invitation for BOT tenders, evaluation and awarding and thereafter implementation, however, he could not provide timelines and when the process will start.
Misika further said small-scale farmers will be included during the second phase of the project, and it will be up to the chosen private developers to determine the number of small-scale farmers as well as employees.
He added that at the moment, they cannot determine what types of fruits or vegetables will be produced, noting that this too will be determined by the private developers.
The first phase of the project is the construction of the dam.
The wall of the dam is completed and earlier this year, //Kharas Regional Council Chief Regional Officer Beatus Kasete said the dam will be handed over to the government in September this year.
According to media reports though, work has been halted again at the moment, due to non-payment to Salini.
Speaking at a gala dinner for the Keetmanshoop Agricultural, Industrial and Tourism Expo here towards the end of March, Standard Bank Keetmanshoop Branch Manager Jaco van Zyl urged farmers that want to take advantage of the opportunity at the Neckartal Dam irrigation scheme to approach the bank for financing.
The dam is set to be the largest water storage dam in Namibia (carrying about 960 million cubic metres) at three times the size of Hardap Dam near Mariental in the Hardap Region - which is currently the largest dam in the country.