Govt to Build New Southern Road

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Minister of Works, Transport and Communication Joel Kaapanda yesterday started talks with councillors in the Karas Region on the construction of a tarred road between the two mining towns of Rosh Pinah and Oranjemund. Kaapanda, who yesterday met with councillors at the diamond town of Oranjemund, told New Era that Rosh Pinah is linked to the south by an approximate 100-kilometers gravel road that crosses the Orange River and connects to the road to Alexander Bay. Currently, this serves as the only link for the general public to Oranjemund. He described the gravel road as unsafe due to its meandering nature and the potholes. “The road has already claimed many lives. It still poses a danger to people’s lives and most people working in Oranjemund are in the Namibian interior,” the minister said. Most people working at the diamond town have to go through South Africa and re-enter Namibia at Noordoewer border post. This, according to Kaapanda, is inconvenient and only people in possession of passports can afford to use the “safe route”. He added that his ministry is presently negotiating with NamDeb management and relevant stakeholders to have the road granted “the right of way” as the proposed road will have to run through the Sperregebiet- Diamond One Mining Area, which is a restricted area at the moment. Kaapanda also revealed that he is not certain when the construction of the road network in that area is likely to start, considering that the current budget does not make provision for the project. However, the minister was confident that the next national budget would cater for this project, he adding: “We want to work on the road to ensure security of workers and to minimise road accidents.” Meanwhile, the minister today meets with all regional and local councillors in the Karas Region. “I will talk to them about efficiency and service delivery, management of government properties, especially with the current auctioning of vehicles initiative,” Kaapanda stated. In March, the ministry implemented campaign Operation Clean-Up, designed to get rid of all rubble in government agencies. This entails auctioning all disused government property to raise funds for further developmental projects. Based on that, the minister indicated that he would appeal to all councillors to support the initiative and render assistance to the assigned team in collecting data about all government property in the region. Since the start of the exercise, teams of young people were early this year dispatched to the 13 regions of the country to collect data on households and entitlement to property. Kaapanda told New Era that the campaign would give the ministry a clear indication of what the Namibian government owns. “We have someone from the asset management division who will also talk to these people. We want to improve the management of government property,” he said. He indicated that soon the ministry would introduce a ‘key deposit’ system whereby a civil servant deposits a certain amount of money in the government account where rent has to go before occupying the house. This, Kaapanda elaborated, would serve as a safety net should the tenant desert the house. “We want to cooperate with the municipality to monitor the behaviour of tenants. We need a proper system that will eliminate irresponsible behaviour out there,” the minister said. A list of tenants who illegally occupied and left the government houses will be sent to the Ministry of Finance and should it be found that these people have pensions with institutions such as the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF), deductions would be made for the accrued water and electricity bills. Though he could not specify the number, people evicted from government houses in Windhoek where they have been squatting illegally have left the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication with a huge municipal bill in excess of N$100 000 for water, refuse collection and power. The minister is also likely to meet with traditional leaders before he returns to the capital on Saturday. “It is important that we inform them about development plans and they can also indicate which roads they feel need proclamation,” he concluded.