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Trip to Ovamboland

29 October 2012, 07:24


The aim of the trip was to check up on the existing infrastructure relating to the power supply along the road from Oshakati/ Ondangwa to Ombalantu.  

The ride on the tarred road to Ondangwa was pure hell. One is continually checking the road for disturbances especially on the verges and signs of new repairs on the road.  

The terrs dig down at the edge of the tar and remove a block of tar and the opening is dug deeper. The land mine is then placed in the opening and the hole is filled with sand until the tar block fits snugly.When driving at a speed the cut tar is not very obvious and when one approaches then it just may be too late.  Drivers now tend to drive on the centre of the road to avoid the trap.    Sand track roads are taboo as were little used roads.  

I was armed with a Department of Water Affairs pistol. But that was little comfort against an AK47.  On the road to Ruacana I stopped after some time to ask the locals, camping with their cattle under trees and bushes, how far ahead was Ombalantu and was told “About a day”  A then asked them how far was it to Oshakati and was told:  “About 4 days”. In these rural areas time has never really become part of their existence. They were on their way to Oshakati to sell their cattle.     

During the early morning sunrise the air is filled with stifling red dust which lends to the countryside a Martian atmosphere. The dust is kicked up by thousands of cattle going out to graze. The same effect is seen at dusk when the cattle are homeward bound. The cattle are handled by young boys of about 7 years old. In some cases the boys ride on the backs of the cattle.     Under the conditions of a war one is always tensed up when travelling in that zone. Every tree feels like it has a terr  behind it.  When an aircraft flies overhead it is difficult to know if it is an enemy plane or friendly plane. On the other hand it may be just as difficult for the crew to identify a vehicle on the ground as friend or foe.    

The Department of Water Affairs had built an extensive system of irrigation canals and for general use by the populace. These were open canals and were seen as an Al fresco  and free bathing amenity.     

The DWA had designed an emergency water scheme  to supply the local population with water in the event of the current system being affected by the ongoing war.  My job was to check out a viable power supply to power the pumping system etc. back at the office all this hard work is drawn up and laid out properly then placed into a file and forgotten     We all knew at the time it was only a show to appease the UN demand for improvement to the practically non-existent infrastructure. 
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