The City of Windhoek is upgrading its local public transport infrastructure in order to reduce pollution and address some of its social and economic problems, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) has reported. In Windhoek, Namibia’s capital and largest city with around 325 000 residents, the population is growing at a rate of more than 4% a year. Most of this growth is concentrated in the informal settlements on the periphery of the city. Windhoek is struggling with high levels of pollution and a range of social and economic problems, partly related to its ailing urban transport infrastructure. Until recently, local public transport consisted of a few bus routes with an unreliable service. Road safety was poor, with high fatality rates among pedestrians and cyclists, and many people resorted to expensive private taxis to get to work on time. But since early this year, 26 modern city buses have been operating on a new route network across Windhoek. And for the first time, the city has a roadmap to guide its initial steps towards sustainable urban mobility.
The Sustainable Urban Transport Master Plan (‘Move Windhoek’) is the outcome of a partnership between the Namibian Ministry of Works and Transport, the City of Windhoek and GIZ GmbH, working on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Move Windhoek has raised the general public’s awareness of integrated mobility and has inspired a rethinking of transport policy in Namibia. The Master Plan supports the development of a new and improved infrastructure, including provision for pedestrians and cyclists: local residents are already benefiting from around 18 km of new walkways and eight km of new cycle routes. “Car-centred transport planning that does not adequately consider the needs of cyclists, pedestrians and local mobility is a major challenge to sustainable development in Windhoek and other cities in Namibia,” says Heinrich Semar, GIZ team leader for the Move Windhoek project. The Master Plan, therefore, provides equal access for all transport users. It’s an innovative approach that has now won a major accolade – the Africa Grow with Public Transport Award for Integrated Mobility from the International Association of Public Transport. The project has also been showcased at the United Nations as a best practice roadmap for sustainable mobility in Africa.
The country’s latest Transport White Paper defines a new framework for sustainable urban mobility throughout the country – and this is one of the project’s most significant achievements.