By Charles Tjatindi
The Roads Authority will invest up to N$310 million in the upgrading of road infrastructure along the Trans Kalahari Corridor.
The exercise is expected to kick off this month and will be implemented over a four-year period ending April 2011. The project aims at accommodating the long-term development and growth prospects of the Trans Kalahari Corridor.
In a media statement, the Walvis Bay Corridor Group – of which the Roads Authority is a member – announced that the first phase of the rehabilitation programme would entail the widening of portions of the road between Okahandja and Karibib. The first 45 km of the Okahandja-Karibib Road and a further 32 km will be rehabilitated.
The statement also underscored the importance of the Trans Kalahari Corridor, noting that various milestones have been achieved as a result.
Through the initiative, the Walvis Bay Corridor Group established a trilateral Trans-Kalahari Corridor Management Committee to address operational issues along the corridor to ensure the smooth flow of goods.
According to the media statement, the Walvis Bay Corridor Group’s efforts have also resulted in a gradual increase in commercial traffic along this route. Testimony to this is the cargo volumes, which have increased by 58.4 percent over the past few years.
The Roads Authority is therefore embarking on the venture as more traffic is expected along the Trans Kalahari Corridor over the next few years.
The Trans Kalahari Corridor comprises a tarred road linking the Port of Walvis Bay with Botswana and Gauteng in South Africa. The Trans Kalahari Corridor Management Committee (TKCMC) was established in 2000 and has since been working on streamlining border and customs operations, improving infrastructural development and through the Walvis Bay Corridor Group, acting as secretariat for the TKCMC, facilitating trade into and out of the SADC region.
Transport along the Trans Kalahari Corridor (imports and exports to and from the South African industrial hub of Gauteng, via the Port of Walvis Bay, as well as goods destined for either of the three countries serving the route) has increased substantially over the past two years.
The Walvis Bay Corridor, of which the Trans Kalahari Corridor forms an integral part, has been hailed as a model for the development of transport corridors in and beyond the region. The TKCMC, comprising stakeholders from the public and private sectors of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, has since its formation been able to effectively co-ordinate border post operations with border opening times having been extended by both Botswana and Namibia, with South Africa to follow suit soon.
In addition, the customs departments of the three countries have been able to formulate and introduce joint and, therefore, time- and cost-effective procedures through the introduction of the Single Administrative Document for goods in transit.
The historic signing of the Trans Kalahari memorandum of understanding in 2003 was another highlight of this initiative. The document now serves as a basis for future cooperation and joint efforts to streamline and enhance transport operations along the Trans Kalahari Corridor. This is done with the aim of making the transport corridor an effective vehicle for the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) efforts in becoming globally competitive.
It also underlines the importance of taking up the challenges and utilising the possibilities for increased regional trade offered through the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) initiative.