Neckartal farmers’ relocation behind schedule

KEETMANSHOOP: Plans to relocate communal farmers affected by the construction of the Neckartal Dam are running behind schedule.
Neckartal is situated some 40 kilometres north-west of Keetmanshoop near the Fish River in the Snyfontein area, and will take up about 5 000 hectares of communal land. Construction work on the dam has already started.

A meeting held here last Tuesday between the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) and the /Hai-/Khaua Traditional Authority, which Snyfontein falls under, discussed the urgency of farmers to be relocated.

A source who attended the meeting, informed Nampa on Monday that hold-ups on Government’s side have hampered the 11 farmers’ relocation, and this has led to farmers now being at risk of losing livestock roaming in the construction area.

“The farmers are in a difficult situation; their animals are being driven up and down by security guards on the construction site. They have also started complaining of stock theft. They need to be relocated as soon as possible,” the source said.

Confirming the meeting and the urgency of the relocation on Monday, Deputy captain of the /Hai-/Khaua, Stephanus Goliath said there is still no specific date for the relocation, but it should be carried out two months from now.
Last Wednesday, the chairperson of the Neckartal Task Force Committee and director of //Karas Rural Water Supply, Leopold Niipare said some of the affected farmers will be relocated to Droogputs village, situated north-east of Snyfontein, while others will be moved to an area still to be decided on.

Tuesday’s meeting also agreed that Government will provide new corrugated iron sheet houses and fenced kraals for the farmers, as well as ensuring that there is enough water for the relocated animals.
Another topic on the agenda was the relocation of human bones in nine graves from Ruiters village to Snyfontein, as Ruiters is also affected by the construction of the dam.

Ruiters is situated some 10 kilometres (km) from Snyfontein.
“A memorial tombstone will be erected next to the new graves,” said another source who spoke to Nampa on condition of anonymity.
The source further said the affected farmers will ask Government for more benefits, such as to be handed Swakara sheep.

“They want something sustainable because some of them are losing their traditional way of living such as catching fish in the Fish River, building materials for traditional huts and traditional medicine,” said the source.

Agriculture minister John Mutorwa launched work on the construction of the N.dollars 2, 8 billion Neckartal Dam project in November last year.

At the moment, the Baby Face company is busy constructing three buildings at the site which will serve as accommodation for the 1 000 employees to be employed at the dam.

The accommodation is expected to be completed in four months’ time.
Neckartal will be used to collect water from the Fish River, and this water will be used for green scheme projects aimed at improving food security and creating employment in the region and the country as a whole.