The shocking details of the Mad Max mess now emerging must serve as a constant reminder in future that administrative confusion can cause laws and regulations to be implemented poorly. Once a slippery road of leniency and noncompliance is entered, weakness is revealed and it affords opportunists ample chance for exploitation. Slowly but surely the full scope of what happened before and during the filming of Mad Max will be known. In recent days several local newspapers carried well-informed articles about the devastation that the filming of Mad Max has left in its wake due to deficient implementation of law and application of accompanying regulations. A report on the full scope of the destruction in the Dorob was commissioned at the end of 2012. That report is yet to be released in full. Many issues that are inexplicable and incomprehensible are already listed: permission was granted by an official who, in terms of applicable legislation and relevant regulations, is neither designated nor authorised to grant such permission or sign any permit allowing such activity in the Dorob; few, if any, of all the preparatory work and studies were completed and duly submitted before that permission was granted; no environmental impact assessment was ever done and therefore the potential impact from the film was not sufficiently scrutinised. The approval granted was not based on an informed decision. Regulations requiring supervision to be diligently performed were not adhered to. Little was done to ensure that no harm is caused to the fragile environment. That void left the filming team ample room to behave as they wanted in free-for-all circumstances and with a blatant couldn’t-care-less attitude, knowing full well that they can perform to their own hearts’ delight and with absolute impunity. It is therefore not surprising that the film director and producer, Australian-born George Miller, has now earned himself the ignominious title and reputation of ‘The Destructor of the Dorob’. The irreparable harm caused to the Dorob is there for all to see. Generations to come will still be able to witness this grotesque destruction. The failure to protect Namibia’s environmental integrity, especially inside a national park, has left an impression locally and internationally that Namibia does not live up to its environmental commitments.
Let’s hope that Namibia’s excellent environmental and tourism record which it has so meticulously structured over many decades is not tarnished too severely by this regrettable neglect. Mad Max’s wild and uncontrolled activities are but one of the attacks on the Dorob. On three other fronts the Dorob faces an insecure future. Over months now, Swakopmund Matters has been issuing warnings about the intended activities of Gecko and Sandpiper in different parts of this park. Now a third front has opened: Rainbow Salt. What has been placed on record over many months about the Sandpiper project of Namibian Marine Phosphate and Gecko’s industrial complex are all equally applicable and relevant to this salt project. There is no valid reason why Rainbow must be an exception. We shall make it our business to ensure that Rainbow – just as the other two – is duly kept to every single law and regulation applicable to its endeavour. The Dorob has now suffered one tragedy. That is already one too many. Rainbow will not be allowed the luxury to claim special circumstances. It is now the right time for all those who are entrusted by law to be the guardians of Namibia’s environment to demonstrate forcefully that they are indeed committed to uphold all these laws.