Saturday, 28 June 2014

Green Project launched in Swakopmund, Namibia

Swakopmund Municipality launched its Green Environmental Project (GEP) on World Environment Day and hopes to create a more environmentally conscious and responsible community, which should also lead to more 'green' spaces in town, especially in the previously disadvantaged areas.

Swakopmund mayor Juuso Kambueshe said that the conservation of the town's environment was the responsibility of all the town's residents; not just the municipality's.

Coastal towns are especially affected by environmental challenges, particulalrly in light of concerns pertaining to climate change and rising sea levels. In fact, last week, waves higher than four metres pounded the coast, causing some infrastructural damage. Die-hard surfers who travel the world for good surfing, have even suggested that these high tides at the coast recently were some of the meanest they have witnessed in this part of the world.

"We are all affected by these issues and should therefore all take responsibility," said Kambueshe.

One of the main drives behind the GEP is Swakopmund's quest to remain the cleanest holiday resort in sub-Sahara Africa, according to Kambueshe, and also to promote it as the preferred international tourism destination.

"Swakopmund has an image to protect and a reputation to maintain," said Kambueshe, adding that compliments stream in from all over the world regarding the town's cleanliness.

The goals of the GEP are to bring together environmental groups such as schools and community environmental clubs, thus coordinating all activities under one umbrella body. The project intends to assist all clubs to be active and to link all clubs in order to share expertise, knowledge and experiences. It will further solicit all forms of support from local businesses and organisations on behalf of its members.

Partners in GEP will also be acknowledged as Eco-Mates and receive certificates to promote their commitment to local environmental affairs.

GEP activities are also aimed at adding value to the national curriculum for basic education through the integration and promotion of environmental studies in formal education and supporting youth-led initiatives.

The annual Project Shine initiative by the municipality will also form part of GEP. Project Shine 2014 was also launched.

New mass housing prices - welcome to Namibia


Tenderpreneurs enjoy lavish spree

The Ministry of Works and Transport has compiled a new mass housing price guideline that proposes lower charges per square metre to curb the exorbitant charges made by the companies which won the tenders.
The price guideline has already been submitted to the Ministry of Regional and Local Government and Housing and Rural Development for consideration and implementation.

Local government minister Charles Namoloh confirmed that his ministry received the price guideline from the works ministry that was roped in for the mass housing programme to offer technical expertise.

Most companies that won construction tenders overcharged government, with one such company raking in more than N$20 million for just getting the job which they subcontracted for more than N$150 million.

The part of the recommendations are that the companies should reduce their prices by between 15% to 30%.

Namoloh said the ministry found that there are companies that were charging beyond the 15% to 30% threshold, and that he will issue a ministerial statement next week on the matter.

Initially, the companies were asked to charge below N$5 000 per square metre but most of them charged higher than the set benchmark. As a result, government had ordered the National Housing Enterprise to renegotiate all the contracts.

According to sources, the works ministry suggested two weeks ago that prices for core five should be N$5 694 per square metre; core six at N$5 119; core seven at N$5 114; core eight at N$4 712; core nine with 110 external wall at N$4 907; core nine with 220 external wall at N$5 093; Falcon M at N$5 000; Naute at N$4 846; and Onduli at N$4 779.


To illustrate the money gobbled by the middleman companies, one of the tenders has been picked up and analysed the prices.

Ferusa Capital Financing Partners was awarded the tender for Swakopmund to build 600 houses at N$173 million. The company charged N$5 951 per square metre, instead of the N$5 000 threshold.

The company then subcontracted the job for about N$150 million, leaving about N$23 million in their pockets just for getting the tender and doing nothing.

A sub-constructor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said some of the companies which get the jobs from the middlemen, charge a 5% risk factor fee, which arises from the fact that most companies awarded mass housing tenders are inexperienced. This, undoubtedly, the source said, pushed up prices.

Registered in July 2011, Ferusa Capital Financing Partners is owned by the Akwenye brothers – Tobias and Nelson, who also owns an assortment of businesses.

Efforts to get comment from him were unsuccessful as he was allegedly in Brazil.


The works ministry proposed that a core six house which refers to a two-bedroom house with a kitchen, toilet and a bathroom measuring 42 m2 be priced not more than N$220 000 and that the rate be less than N$5119.

Several companies have overcharged from that range, among them 7 Sirs Group which charged N$239 000 per two-bedroom house. Calculations by The Namibian show that in that category alone, government might recoup N$4, 2 million from 7 Sirs Group since they overcharged by N$19 000 per house for the 230 core six houses they are tasked to build.

The category of core six is one of nine type of houses that are set to be built under mass housing – ranging between N$201 00 and N$330 000 houses.

Middlemen in both Windhoek and Karasburg charged N$250 000 per core six house. Calculations show that government could recoup N$5 million and N$750 000 from the two companies in one category alone.

Mariental, Omuthiya, Oshikuku, Oshakati, Okahao, Otavi all charged N$243 000 per core six cause, which means government, according to the latest prices thresholds, was overcharged by N$1,6 million for the construction of 161 core houses at those five towns.

The middlemen at Zambezi asked for N$221 000, Nkurenkuru N$212 000, Khorixas N$211 000, Keetmanshop N$240 000, Outjo N$221 000, Opuwo N$193 000 and Gobabis N$236 000. Middlemen at Henties Bay charged N$201 000 while their counterparts at Katima Mulilo quoted N$231 000.

A Falcon M which covers an area size 68.04 m2 should not exceed N$310 000, a Naute not more than N$320 000, whereas for a Onduli not more than N$330 000 should be charged.


Two other companies that were awarded mass housing tenders in Swakopmund, charged different prices from Ferusa for constructing the same core houses.

Power-Oyeno, which is building 2 034 houses in Swakopmund is charging N$5 910 per square metre while Delta Group Holdings that will put up 400 houses asks for N$5 297 per square metre. Another company, 7 Sirs Group, which has a contract to build 1 595 units in Walvis Bay, wants N$5 700 per square metre.

It is believed that several middlemen and some tenderpreneurs, who went on shopping sprees, to buy TV screens worth N$100 000 and vehicles before work has started, have tried to bribe top officials at the housing ministry to be on their side.


One of the officials who opposed the prices charged to NHE, was Gabriel Castro, the adviser to the Minister of Regional and Local Government and Housing and Rural Development, Charles Namoloh.

“We should cut out the middleman as it does not add any value to what we are doing because it costs a lot. There are people making money for doing nothing,” Castro said in an earlier interview with The Namibian.

He conceded that the middleman firms are a result of a political decision aimed at empowering indigenous people but said the practice is pointless if government does not monitor real progress.

“The government should motivate and facilitate the participation of younger Namibians with the aim of building capacity and not to enrich people in a very short time,” he said.


Construction workers in the mass housing project at the coast have in the past complained about delayed payment of their salaries while work in Windhoek has not yet started.

Construction workers at Walvis Bay claimed that they received their salaries two months after they started work.

The 7 Sirs Group is in partnership with Namibian businessman Collin Venaani who is known as ‘Mr Bentley,’ a younger brother to DTA president McHenry Venaani. The delay in payment resulted in workers downing tools at some point last month as some workers who mostly earn between N$8 to N$12 per hour complained.

“Our workers are resigning as there is no financial compensation. I lost experienced workers as a result of this delay. Out of 17 people I employed, only six are left. The rest resigned as they refuse to wait for their money that long,” said one senior worker who spoke to Nampa on condition of anonymity.

7 Sirs Group director Alvin Naidoo also agreed that the employees return to work and that their salaries would be deposited into the sub-contractors’ accounts by yesterday.

A manager of one of the sub-contractors admitted the chain of the flow of funds from NHE, to the contractor. Sub-contractors had also affected their access to the funds. NHE transfers the money to a bank in South Africa for the main contractor and then the money comes back into Namibia to the sub-contractor.

The sub-contractors also revealed that they do not have signed contracts with 7 Sirs and that their agreements were verbal because they were desperate for the job.
YouTube channel: Exploring Namibia
Aerial photo/video service contact:

Friday, 27 June 2014

Tiny elephant-like mammal discovered in Namib Desert

The shrew may look mouse-like, but it shares more of its DNA with elephants.

A new species of elephant shrew, or round-eared segni, called the Macroscelides micus has been discovered in the Namib desert. The discovery of the mammal has been detailed by researchers from the California Academy of Sciences in the Journal of Mammalogy.

The elephant shrew may be mouse-like in appearance, but it in fact shares of more of its DNA with the savannah giants from which it takes its name. The only discernible visual similarity between the creature, which weighs only 28 g, and an elephant is the sengi's long twig-like snout, which could be compared to an elephant's trunk. It uses its snout in the same way an anteater does and for the same purpose—to sweep the floor and look for ants to eat.

These particular elephant shrews differ from other species by their size—at 19 cm they are smaller than their closest relatives—and their rusty red fur, which helps the little critter to camouflage itself in the surrounding desert environment. They were also found to have a large subcaudal gland—the scent gland located on the underside of the tail—and lacked the dark skin pigment of other sengi.

"These traits are the basis for the description of a new species of Macroscelides that seems to be confined to gravel plains associated with the distinctive reddish colored Etendeka geological formation of northwestern Namibia," write the researchers in the paper's abstract.

Genetic analysis has revealed that there are key differences even between this particular species and its closest relatives. As far as the researchers can determine, the species is reproductively isolated from other species of elephant shrew, as they could find no evidence of cross-breeding, which would result in hybrid species.

"Genetically, Macroscelides micus is very different from other members of the genus and it's exciting to think that there are still areas of the world where even the mammal fauna is unknown and waiting to be explored," said Jack Dumbacher, one of the researchers responsible for the discovery, in a statement.

This story originally appeared on Wired UK.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Windhoek upmarket guest house for sale

Structure of deal:

1) The property consists of 3 different plots.
2) The 2 plots on top are registered in PTY Ltd. and title deed needs to be sold out of the company so transfer duty will have to be paid.
3)  The 3rd plot is registered in a CC. Company can be bought so only transfer of shares is applicable.
4) Betterment fee to be paid by the buyer. (1 million)
5) Selling price is 27 Million N$.
6) Contact for more details:

Gobabeb Campsite & Accommodation

Gobabeb Desert Research Station is opening its desert doors to general tourism. The campsite will be upgraded over the next few months and a reduced rate will be offered until the upgrade has been completed.

The revenue from tourism will support The Research Station’s ongoing projects of one of the oldest deserts in the world. Gobabeb remains committed to conservation of Namibia’s biodiversity.

Palmwag against poaching & Grootberg Lodge Conservation Fund

Taking a stand on conservation and against poaching.

The local Palmwag community have responded swiftly to the recent rhino poaching in the area and are assisting with finding and apprehending the guilty parties. The #Khoadi /Hoas conservancy, (owner of Grootberg Lodge) is also investing funds in training local shepherds to monitor the rhinos on a daily basis and report data back to Save the Rhino Trust.

The Grootberg Lodge augments its already ongoing efforts in conservation by continuing to donate a percentage of funds from tourist activities to a Conservation Fund. Farmers will be compensated for livestock losses caused by predators.

Tongabezi Lodge in Livingstone

Tongabezi Lodge

Late rains at the Fish River Lodge and its hiking season

The quiver trees put on a spectacular display with their candelabra yellow flowers at the beginning of June thanks to the late rains. The natural springs are now full of water and the population of mountain zebra is growing.

The first hike of the season started with guests from the UK. It was a hard trek due to the high water levels of the river – fitness on this hike was definitely needed! There were fewer sightings of Fish Eagle due to the muddy waters of the river but huge catfish were still spotted in the shallows.

Fish River Lodge ( is now offering a one-night camping option in the the canyon with a second night in the Lodge. This is the ultimate Canyon experience - sleep under the stars in the canyon wilderness followed by the home comforts of the Lodge with breathtaking views.

Trip Advisor certificates for Fish River Lodge and Grootberg Lodge

Fish River Lodge and Grootberg Lodge received the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence for 2014 for a second year running.
Seven long-serving staff members of both lodges received their Tourism Hospitality Certificates from the Namibian Training Authority at a ceremony held in June. Recognition of skills as well as training are part of our strategy to grow staff. Ralph Dantu, Reagan Mbaeva, Paula Dantu, Paulichen Seibes, Agnes Seibes, Otniel Areseb and Tina Awises were amongst the first people to receive these certificates in Namibia. This certification is based on the Recognition of Prior Learning project launched last year with the support of the MCA.

Heavy winds damage Walvis Bay

Alternative classroom block that was being erected at the !Nara primary school in Walvis Bay’s Tutaleni area, was destroyed by heavy winds that swept across the country’s west coast last weekend.

Concerned residents in the area are now fearing for the safety of their children, although no one was harmed in the weekend’s episode of strong winds.

The destroyed structure was being set up by the Ministry of Education to lessen afternoon classes at the school. A concerned parent who dropped off her children at the school informed New Era about the destroyed classrooms which was also confirmed by a teacher at the school.

The teacher said that they are unhappy that they were not consulted with regards to the structures as they believe that it’s not durable for the weather conditions at the coast.

“Look at what happened over the weekend what if this has happened while there were children in the classrooms?”

The structure is made of fire retardant insulated polystyrene sheet compressed and fixed between two aluminium zinc coated steel sheets.

Allegations were also made that the structure is apparently more expensive than the alternative  housing brick classrooms that were built at the school recently and shows signs of rust already.

It is believed that thirteen more units have been set up in the region of which some have been completed, however, some schools have expressed their unhappiness with the structures.

When contacted for comment, the education office in the Erongo region said that they are not directly involved in the project as it is directly carried out from head office.

Ministry of Education awarded the contract to construction company, Boetie Construction who subcontracted Panel to Panel (PtP) to set up the structures.

Accounts manager of PtP  Jaques Crowther refuted claims that the building is not safe, saying  the material used for this project is pre-fabricated insulated panels, which is a widely acceptable and much used form of alternative building material.

 “The material is more economical than conventional building materials.   The biggest advantage is the lesser time frame in which a building can be constructed. If maintained correctly, a structure built from these panels should last about as long as a conventional structure,” Crowther said.

He also  refuted claims that the building is not safe saying that not  all agree with the safety issue regarding these structures or its relation to the weather conditions at the coast.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Hilltop House Windhoek has been reopened

Hilltop House Windhoek:

Kapika Waterfall Lodge

Kapika Waterfall Lodge's at Epupa Falls new deck has recently been finished, see photos.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Lion is on the loose in Omaheke

A lion on the loose in Eiseb Block in the Otjombinde constituency in the Omaheke Region has apparently eaten two donkeys and severely bitten and   killed a cow over the past four days.
Zambia Kavari, a farmer in Otjikoto area of Eiseb, said the lion’s roar could be heard on Tuesday and said it was definitely the sound of the marauding beast.
According to him a group of men on horses and vehicles, together with a team from Nature Conservation in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism at Gobabis, have teamed up to track down the lion.
Kavari said lions from Botswana have been terrorizing the area over the past years, although they would sometimes stay away for years before coming back to kill domesticated animals.
He said people in the area have been advised to move in groups to avoid running into the beast’s claws.
Otjombinde constituency councillor Karii Marenga confirmed reports about the presence of the lion, but said that he would only comment further once he has consulted with the team from the Ministry of                    Environment and Tourism.
An environment and tourism staffer at Gobabis, who declined to give her name, confirmed a team from the ministry traveled to the Eiseb Block yesterday morning after they received news about the lion.
Eiseb Block is a huge tract of open communal area in Otjombinde constituency where wild animals such as lions and hyenas are said to be roaming freely.