The environment and tourism ministry has indicated renovations and upgrades of the Etosha National Park fence are progressing well.
This comes after volunteers from the National Youth Service (NYS) were roped in and started mending the fence around the park.
In 2020, the ministry and NYS signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to strengthen their ties and ensure productivity.
The volunteers came on board after the environment and tourism ministry abruptly cancelled a tender, worth millions of dollars, for the repair and electrification of an elephant and predator-proof fence in Etosha. Environment and tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta at the time cut out middlemen in the fence tender process, which translates that government saved millions of dollars by cutting out costly private companies. Romeo Muyunda this week said the joint team (NYS and the ministry staff) crossed the Oshigambo River, moving further west of the park.
He said the team has thus far covered about 28km in terms of renovations and the upgrade of the fence. The fixing team comprises the ministry’s personnel, 10 NYS graduates and 25 community members from conservancies.
The ministry earlier indicated about N$2 million has been budgeted and will go towards acquiring materials and allowance for volunteers.
The minister cut out the middlemen, as using private companies is deemed expensive – it would have cost the ministry N$700 000 per kilometre and an estimated N$500 million to complete the remaining 690km. Of the 820km long fence, more than 140km has already been completed.
The fence’s collapse has allowed the escape of dangerous wildlife into human settlements, where lions killed livestock, and elephants destroyed structures and threatened human lives.
Once complete, the ministry believes the fence will assist in reducing poaching and human-wildlife conflict cases, which may have escalated due to the poor state of the fence. The fence of the national park is in deplorable condition, with some areas completely exposed, causing livestock to graze in the park and wild animals to leave the park.
This often leads to incidents of human-wildlife conflict.