Swakop river weir being plundered

Sold for scrap metal
The Swakop river weir is being plundered with the removed pieces apparently being sold as scrap metal.
Adam Hartman
The approximately 100-metre-long weir in the Swakop River situated near Swakopmund, is being dug our and broken in pieces, and being sold as scrap metal.

About a week ago the Swakopmund Neighbourhood Watch were informed about men digging along the metal weir situated in the river near the old water reservoir, just east of the Kramersdorf suburb. Using spades, hammers, cutters and chisels, the men were digging more than a metre deep along the weir, which is said to be at least three metres deep under the river sand, and breaking it up piece by piece. The men said they were selling it for scrap metal, and did not see it to be a problem as the weir seemingly serves no purpose and no one seems to own it anymore.

The men were only warned that they could be acting illegally, but it has not seemed to deter them as the plundering continues.

The weir is inside the Dorob National Park and only certain activities are listed within this part of the park - and this does not include the destruction of features. Otherwise, this part of the river is frequented daily by Swakopmunders enjoying a walk, sunrises and sunsets from nearby dunes, walking dogs and riding horses.

When approached for comment, environment ministry's spokesperson Romeo Muyunda did not respond after a couple of attempts. Being in a municipal area, Swakopmund CEO Alfeus Benjamin told Erongo 24/7 that he was not aware of the plundering and would do an inspection.

A weir is a metal or concrete barrier across the width of a river that alters the flow of water, and usually results in a change in the height of the river level. Weirs are also used to control the flow of water for reservoirs, or stall the flow to allow water to replenish groundwater levels. It is uncertain how old the weir it, but over the years, and with the large amount of sediments brought down by the river once in a while, it has been buried deep into the sand, and does not seem to serve its purpose anymore.

The plundering is reminiscent of an incident about a decade ago when a group of about men, armed with hammers, chisels and spades swooped onto the historic dumpsite between the high and low water mark on Vineta's beach, breaking it apart for its old scrap metal - and some 'gold nuggets' strewn in between.

Residents reasoned that there were many parts of the beach where people were not allowed to enter with their off-road vehicles, while there were laws prohibiting people from removing stones, yet these men were left to plunder the old dump.