Books soaked by broken water pipe in National Archives

WINDHOEK: Hundreds of books destined for school libraries in the country were soaked when a waterpipe burst in the National Archives of Namibia building in the capital over the weekend.

When this reporter visited that building, which also houses the National Library along Keller Street on Tuesday morning, hundreds of books were laid out in the sun to dry.

These are mainly reading books containing short stories written by Namibian learners for Grades Five to Seven.

The National Library was not affected at all.

The Director for the Namibia Library and Archives’ Services in the Ministry of Education (MoE), Veno Kauaria told Nampa on enquiry that although the books became wet, it was not damaged much.

She could, however, not provide an exact figure of soaked books or the cost of damages, only saying: “Government does not have any insurance on the books, and we have to make a list of damaged books and cost them out”.

Kauaria noted that the water has been dried up, and the Ministry is currently looking for a heavy-duty machine to dry up the carpets so that it does not cause mildew, which could be harmful for both people and books.

“We want to do it this week so that we can re-open the archives next week. And we are lucky that there were still people in the library that time when the pipe burst,” she noted.

These staff members alerted the relevant authorities immediately.

Kauaria added that since the building was commissioned in 2000, no major renovations have been done on the building – only minor fixing.

She indicated that a feasibility study conducted on the National Archives of Namibia by professional architects and engineers in 2012 found that the building needs major renovations.

The date for these renovations has not been determined yet, as the process is currently with the Tender Board.

Meanwhile, the Inspector for Control Work at the Ministry of Education, Walter Cloete told this agency on Monday that during maintenance work on that ceiling recently, the water pipe in the ceiling was replaced with a Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) pipe meant for underground water networks, instead of a copper pipe.

“The PVC plastic blue pipe is not suitable for ceilings or walls – only for underground use, and it was not glued properly, that is why that pipe could not handle the water pressure,” he said, noting that copper pipes last a lifetime.