Government Committed to Removing Redline

THE Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa, said the government has remained unwavering to the total removal of the redline since independence because it perpetuates the inequalities of the past.

Speaking during the groundbreaking ceremony of the construction of a N$67 million Ondangwa veterinary laboratory and clinic at Ondangwa yesterday, Mutorwa said the redline affects the value of livestock, income and the people’s standard of living.

“I am duty bound to refer to the redline, which divides our country into two distinct animal health zones. Whilst the fence in itself was conceptualised to be merely an animal disease control tool, to better manage foot and mouth disease (FMD) and lung sickness (CBPP), it has a very dark and pervasive colonial historical shadow that limits the economic opportunities for the majority of the very large number of Namibians who find themselves north of the said fence,” said Mutorwa.

The minister also said the government has embarked on strategies to address this issue and eventually bring it to its logical conclusion.

Amongst the strategies is the policy for the education of trans-boundary animal diseases approved by Cabinet in 2010. This will be followed by the approval of the strategy for freedom from FMD and CBPP in the northern communal areas (NCA).

However, Mutorwa said the government will continue to invest in the construction of various State veterinary offices, clinics, border posts, abattoirs and veterinary laboratories to strengthen the delivery of animal health services.

He further said the NCAs have not reported any case of FMD in 25 year’s time, while some areas did not report FMD outbreaks in more than 40 years.

The mayor of Ondangwa, Leonard Negonga, applauded the agriculture ministry for bringing such services closer to the people and for strategically locating the facility in Ondangwa where it will cater for all the northern regions.

Negonga, however, pointed out that Ondangwa as one of the overpopulated northern towns needs revenue and Natis services, and tertiary and vocational training institutions.

The Ondangwa town council is said to have made available the land for the construction of the veterinary clinic four years ago but due to the delay of the tender process, the construction could not start for some time.

The laboratory will be the second fully-fledged facility of its kind in Namibia, with an aanced capacity to undertake serology, biotechnology, molecular diagnostic techniques, microbiology, virology and pathological services.

Mutorwa said the laboratory will be a national clinic catering for the needs of the farmers in the communal areas. The facility also aims to improve the health status of livestock beyond the redline.

“This took considerable time and effort and delayed critical decision-making capacity for our veterinarians and technicians in the field,” he said.

Jack Mutua, the principal member at Tectura architects, to whom the tender was awarded, said the facility will be built in two phases whereby the first phase will be constructed at an amount of N$2 million.

The second phase of the clinic will cost about N$57 million.

The construction for the first phase will commence this month and the construction of the whole facility is expected to be complete by the end of 2015.

Mutorwa further urged the contractors to speed up their work and avoid unnecessary delays with the construction of the facility.

“To the contractors, I am saying you were awarded the tender by the Tender Board of Namibia, based on your expertise, abilities, competencies and professionalism. You will also be judged accordingly,” Mutorwa said.

Source : The Namibian