Quest for water on in Nam

Windhoek – Namibia this month starts construction of Neckartal Dam on the Fish River in the semi-arid southern parts of the country; finally getting to work on a project that has been on the cards for nearly a century.

Neckartal Dam, which is set to become the biggest source of inland water in Namibia, will cost R2.873 billion ‑ all financed by the Namibian government. The dam will breathe economic life into the semi-arid region of Karas, with economic benefits expected to spill over to the rest of the population.

Joseph Iita, the Permanent Secretary for Agriculture, Water and Forestry, told The Southern Times that construction of Neckartal would be officially launched on September 22.

Namibia recently sealed the R2.8b contract for construction of Neckartal with Italy-based Salini Construttori SpA. 

Iita said that work has already started with access roads, electrical installations having been completed. “Contractors have been physically on site while the formal site handover is planned for September 22,” Iita said.

“Construction of the dam will take about three years. The filling of the dam and subsequent water provision will be dependent on the magnitude of the flow in the Fish River during the rainy season,” he added.

Neckartal is one of the largest publicly funded capital projects and is seen as an answer to economic and social ills plaguing the southern parts of Namibia.

The dam will have a crest of approximately 518 metres and a height of 69.5m at full supply, while the reservoir will cover an area of approximately 39 square kilometres. Storage capacity of the balancing dam will be 90 000 cubic metres, Iita said.

“The Namibian government will be footing the bill of the entire dam project,” Iita said.

Neckartal will be used for general consumption though the key focus is irrigating farming projects in the region. “The first phase is only focusing on irrigation schemes but future extensions are envisaged to include pipeline extensions to supply water to areas with poor quality or limited quantities of groundwater,” Iita said.

Agricultural projects in the region will be aimed at meeting domestic consumption as well as the export market. “We have established fresh produce business hubs for processing and marketing of Namibia fresh produce,” Iita explained.

Last month, the Agriculture Ministry said construction of a second water desalination plant in the Erongo Region would start in 2014 as the government steps up efforts to provide water for human consumption as well as industrial and commercial use.

Namibia’s second water desalination plant will supply uranium mines in Erongo Region. Currently, the mines get water from the desalination plant built by French nuclear company Areva SA.

September 2013
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