Erongo governor Neville Itope has announced that his office is planning to host the first-ever Namibian Fishing Indaba to align the new with the old fishing right holders.
He said this on Friday while delivering the state of the region address in Swakopmund, where he called for the region’s citizens to remain hopeful and positive despite the litany of challenges facing the region.
Itope said the fisheries ministry will fund the indaba that is expected to bring together fishing industry players to iron out issues in the industry.
“This will ensure that all role players pull in the same direction, restore confidence in the fishing sector while ensuring its long-term viability,” he said.
The multibillion-dollar fishing sector has been tainted with claims of corruption and has been hit with massive job losses over the years.
The longstanding challenge regarding low salaries paid to fishermen and poor working conditions in the fishing industry continues to haunt the region
“I am happy that we have employed most workers. However, already there are talks of unhappiness regarding the standardized remuneration packages, terms and length of employment contracts by the re-employed workers,” he said.
Without providing details, Itope said the fisheries ministry is dealing with the matter to ensure that workers in the fishing industry are taken care of.
Friday’s address laid bare the extent of the problems in the region, which Itope said are being addressed.
This year’s address also focused on areas such defeating the coronavirus pandemic, economic recovery, fighting corruption, housing and sanitation provision, job creation and infrastructure development amongst others.
With tourism also adversely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, Itope said there are plans to establish an Erongo Tourism Forum.
“We are just looking at the guidelines for the formulation of the Forum,” he said.
Itope told Erongo residents that his office has adopted a zero-tolerance approach when it comes to corruption, further urging politicians in the region to lead by example and report irregularities to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for investigation.
“My office is committed to fighting corruption in the region, and we have submitted to the ACC to investigate the Covid-19 School Infrastructure Project after some irregularities were found around the implementation of the project. The case is currently being investigated,” he said.
Like other regions, Erongo continues to bear the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially from an economic standpoint.
Itope said his office will engage all stakeholders in order to develop strategies for economic recovery.
“However, we are mindful of the effects that Covid – 19 has, particularly on our tourism industry, where some accommodation establishments and restaurants remain closed. The impact is also being felt by our local artists who make a living from tourism,” he said.
He revealed that his office, in partnership with Nedbank Namibia, is currently undertaking a study to ascertain the impact of Covid-19 on the regional economy.
“The baseline data from this study will inform a regional stakeholder dialogue that will deliberate on regional economic recovery strategies,” said a hopeful Itope.