Sunday 7 March 2021
  • :
  • :

Only ONE road completed in the south

Since 2013, regions south of the Khomas all the way to the South African borders can only boast of the MR 118 Oranjemund – Rosh Pinah 100 km road in terms of road infrastructure developments.
This is out of 32 gravel and bitumen standard roads constructed and rehabilitated nation-wide at a cost of N$8.9 billion. This shattering revelation affirms the long held perception that Government has reduced the South to ‘future plans’. This evidence emerged from reports prepared for the Swapo Think Tank to enable them to start preparations for the upcoming Swapo Election Manifesto.
Critics say central government seem to make all efforts to avail money for construction of roads to link towns and villages north of Oshivelo and Mururani, but plays the economic crisis card when it comes to doing the same for the southern communities.
Northern regions Oshana, Omusati and Ohangwena have been well sorted when it comes to roads construction with the Kavango and Zambezi regions also getting a fair share. Regions such as Kunene also have countable finished roads while a bit is shared in the Omaheke and Erongo regions, and only one for the south.
According to documents in the possession of The Patriot, 29 road projects have been put on hold due to the financial turbulence that have hit the country’s purse. Amongst those projects, the  majority of which are still under construction, such as roads in northern Oshivelo and Mururani, a few in Kunene region and other in the eastern parts of the country.
What would have amounted to the second road constructed in the South, namely the Keetmanshoop via Aroab to Klein Menasse Border Post 6 km road, has also been put on hold.
Residents of the South have long voiced their discontent with the manner in which government neglects development in the south to the benefit of the northern parts of the country.
“Everything is happening in the north because most of our leaders are from the north. The rest of us must wait until the north is developed before we get to eat from the cake. We will be told that there is no money but when there is money, priority is put on connecting villages in the north while we are in dust here in the South. Our leaders from the South in government don’t even care about where they come from, even when they see that their colleagues are fixing their villages,” said youth activist Adam Isaaks from Keetmanshoop.
Isaaks added that while Keetmanshoop is the hub of the //Karas region, development in the town has been at a snail’s-pace for the past years.
“You barely drive on gravel roads for long distances in the northern regions, but it is different in the south. Apparently there is no money for roads but all roads are being constructed in the north every year. It is very unfair so it is time our leaders from the south start think of home,” he added.
Swapo party’s //Karas regional coordinator, Mathew Mumbala vehemently differed with Isaaks saying the region is not neglected and that the regions development does not only depend on the construction of roads.
“I do not agree that there is nothing happening in the south. The Oranjemund-Rosh Pinah road was budgeted and that is why it is completed. The region does not only depend on the roads, there are other things,” he said.
“//Karas region only needed two roads as opposed to other regions that have roads that were ignored during the colonial time. Besides the Keetmanshoop-Aroab road that needs to be constructed, //Karas region is fine,” he added.
The Keetmanshoop via Aroab to Klein Menasse Border Post (6 km) is one of the roads that are currently put on hold, but a senior source from the works and transport ministry says there has been money deliberately set aside for the project to kick start.
Commenting on the matter a senior politician said on the sentiment of the south not receiving much priority, the nation must come to terms with understanding that the country is going through a financial crisis that subsequently caused many capital projects to be put on hold.
“The country is going through difficulties and we are being asked to put all new projects on hold. So we are just going to concentrate on projects in the Harambee Prosperity Plan and NDP5,” she said.
A total of 616.1 km gravel roads and 701 km bitumen standard roads were constructed. This falls short of the party’s promise in its 2014 manifesto when it promised to build 1,480 kilometers of bitumen standard roads during the next five (5), in addition to 3,206.8 kilometers of gravel roads.
The Patriot also understands that the line ministry has been sternly advised to redirect funds from other road projects to the Harambee project roads. These are the Windhoek-Okahandja (dual carriage), Swakopmund-Walvis Bay dual carriage, Windhoek-Hosea Kutako International Airport freeway, and the Swakop– Hentis Bay–Uis-Kamanjab link.
“We had projects prioritised for the South, but there is no money. We got various proposals from the South but we had to put everything on hold due to budgetary constraints and not because the south has been neglected.”
This publication is reliably informed that government is approaching a German bank for a soft loan to be able to pay for the construction of these roads. This comes in the wake of the meeting between Bank of Namibia and the Deutsche Bundesbank (German Central Bank) recently in Windhoek to allegedly strengthen existing ties, particularly in the areas of combating cybercrime and the sharing of expertise.
Although the local economy is currently in a precarious state, Bank of Namibia (BoN) governor Iipumbu Shiimi said the prospect of borrowing money from Germany did not feature in their 15-minute closed-door meeting at the time. When put to the Hardap Region Governor who initially indicated interest on the matter only to later lash out at this journalist refusing to comment, Esme Isaaks, who represents the region distanced herself from engaging on the matter.
“My dear, do not force me to comment on something,” said an annoyed Isaaks abruptly ending the call.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *