Dredging for the Kabajani Ferry

The dredging of the Zambezi River is scheduled to start in a matter of days, following the commissioning of the dredger by the deputy Minister of Works and Transport Kilus Nguvauva last week. The commissioning of the dredger, that cost government nearly N$8 million, coincides with the displacement of thousands of people in the eastern parts of the region due to seasonal flooding.

The dredger will clear clogged waterways for the Kapelwa Kabajani river ferry, which has not been operational for years since its maiden voyage in 2010 due to low water levels and impassable and rocky patches in the river. The barge is used mainly by residents of the flood prone Kabbe constituency. “The river landing craft was acquired with the sole purpose of transporting our people and their goods between Katima Mulilo and Impalila Island and the Kasika area, as well as assisting during flood emergencies in the area.

It is being utilised to transport passengers and goods, but not to its full potential as expected. It has been facing major challenges such as getting stuck on sand and rock outcrops, especially when the level in the Zambezi becomes low. As a result it had a negative impact on our service delivery in terms of the transportation of our people,” said Nguvauva during the commissioning of the vessel.

Nguvauva further said the acquisition of the ferry and dredger form part of the ministry’s strategic plan to ensure smooth and reliable transportation for the many residents, who rely on often unpredictable dug-out canoes as the primary means of transportation on longer and tiring journeys in the region. “This is the ministry’s objective of ensuring a modern and reliable transport infrastructure and ensuring the provision of quality goods and services,” said Nguvauva.

Although he was not specific, the deputy minister conceded that the ministry is aware of possible dredging impacts on aquatic life and said everything possible is being done to minimise the impact. “The dredger is not a perfect initiative. I would like to call upon the department of transport and the directorate of maritime affairs to undertake an environmental assessment that will analyse the direct or indirect impact of using a dredger in our mighty Zambezi before we destroy what we proudly have at the moment,” appealed Nguvauva. Kabbe constituency councillor and chairperson of the Zambezi regional council Raphael Mbala said negotiations with the ministry of works culminated in a significant reduction of tariffs, that has previously been a serious bone of contention with villagers who considered the proposed tariffs to be too high and therefore unaffordable to the majority. “We negotiated with the ministry of works.

The tariffs were reduced to N$85 from Katima Mulilo to Kasika and Impalila and N$45 from Katima to Schuckmansburg (now Luhonono). However, this is yet to be finalised. The barge has only assisted flood victims and has not yet started with its transportation services. We are dredging the river so that the ferry can travel uninterrupted the whole year,” said Mbala. The 360 horse power ferry christened the ‘Richard Kapelwa Kabajani’ after the late liberation struggle hero can load up to two vehicles and hundreds of people. According to plans by the ministry of works the Zambezi River would be dredged from Katima Mulilo up to Impalila Island.

Source : New Era