The Roads Authority (RA) on Friday signed contracts to the tune of N$ 706 million with 13 development contractors and 26 SMEs to maintain Namibia’s gravel road network over a period of five years.
The maintenance work will be done in the southern, northern and central parts of the country, said the RA’s acting chief executive officer, Conrad Lutombi said.
Lutombi said a total of N$ 308 million will go towards the contractors for their services, while the remaining N$ 398 million will be spent on 26 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to work with these contractors.
Five SMEs and three development contractors are from Windhoek, 10 SMEs and five contractors are from Otjiwarongo, four SMEs and three contractors from Oshakati, and seven SMEs and two contractors from Keetmanshoop.
Lutombi said about 90 per cent of the tenders were awarded to contractors and SMEs from previously disadvantaged backgrounds.
“This is in line with our policy to develop SMEs in the road construction and maintenance sector. SMEs play an important role in the economic development of our country and they have a strategic importance as they contribute to creation of jobs and raising the living standards of the people,” the RA acting chief said.
Lutombi said this project will create over 250 jobs for people living in the areas where work will be done during the period of five years.
He stressed that the project will greatly improve gravel roads, as it will optimise all gravel roads’ lifespans and, more importantly, motorists will significantly benefit as well.
Lutombi further added that the RA is currently busy with a re-seal contract for some national roads to the value of N$ 700 million for the period of three years.
This work will be executed in Windhoek, Maltahohe, Usakos, Outjo, Grootfontein, Oshakati, Katima Mulilo, Rundu, Opuwo, Keetmanshoop and Karasburg roads.
“The Roads Authority is doing its level best with the limited funding to increase the number of re-gravel units in Namibia,” he said.
Lutombi said the system of maintaining gravel roads is a step in the right direction in efforts to build and maintain the country’s biggest asset, which is the road network.
He encouraged development contractors and SMEs to perform their assigned duties in line with the set standards, and maintain good quality roads in the country.
This comes as the demand for road infrastructure in Namibia is higher than what the Roads Authority’s financial capacity can deliver, while the maintenance of the road network continues to suffer tremendously due to inadequate funding, according to Lutombi.
Last week Minister of Works and Transport, Erkki Nghimtina officiated the groundbreaking ceremony for the upgrading of the Okatana-Endola-Onhuno road to bitumen standard.
The new 34 kilometre main road (MR) 120 from Okatana in the Oshana Region through Endola and up to Onhuno settlement in the Ohangwena Region will be upgraded at a cost of N$ 187 million over the next 15 months.
Lutombi believes that the construction of the Okatana-Endola-Onhuno road will bring much-needed positive change to the people. He described road infrastructure as “one of the biggest assets and the backbone” of a country’s economy.
“More importantly, the construction of new roads is a foundation for socio-economic improvement, advancement and empowerment to our people in all corners of our country,” he told those present.
The acting RA CEO added that it is common knowledge that access to proper infrastructure means empowerment, saying the regions that do not have access to proper infrastructure are under-developed and people in those regions are the most vulnerable to poverty.
He noted that the Okatana-Endola-Onhuno road project will provide people in the Oshana and Ohangwena regions with great opportunities in investment, generating employment and income improvement in order to gradually upgrade their living standards.
Even though the Namibian nation is faced with financial difficulties, Lutombi expressed satisfaction that the government continues to fund new road projects.
Some 700 employment opportunities will be created during the upgrading of the Okatana-Endola-Onhuno road.
Namibia Road Products and Services has been appointed as the main contractor in the project, while Burmeister and Partners Consulting Engineers are the consultants and nine small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will work as sub-contractors.