By Anna Ingwafa
Overall damage to public roads and bridges caused by raging floodwaters will cost the Government over N$50 million in repairs in the Oshana, Ohangwena and Omusati regions, according to projections by the Roads Authority.
The Minister of Works, Transport and Communication, Joel Kaapanda, was on a three-day fact-finding mission to assess road damage caused by floods in the Oshana, Ohangwena and Omusati regions.
On Monday, he visited the Oshana and Ohangwena regions to ascertain the damage caused to the road infrastructure.
In the Oshana Region, Omugwelume-Oshakati Road was damaged but has since been repaired and is now open to traffic.
Okatana-Endola Road is still undergoing repairs and according to Kaapanda, it was expected to be ready for use by yesterday.
A contractor has been appointed and is ready to repair the Eheke-Onakamwandi Road at anytime.
The bridge that connects Ompudja to Oshakati is under repair and a contractor is on site.
In the Ohangwena Region, Ongenga-Ohaingu-Engela Road is damaged within about 50 metres and has not been repaired yet.
People have difficulty accessing the Engela State Hospital through the Ongenga-Ohaingu-Engela Road.
The Ministry of Health has set up makeshift clinics at Ohaingu and Endola. The clinics are already functioning.
Omafo-Engela Road poses a big threat to its users since the water is overflowing on the tarred road. There is a heavy flow of water on the road and people are completely cut off from Engela State Hospital, which is the referral hospital in the region. According to Kaapanda, contractors cannot start work on that road because they have to wait for the water to subside.
Oshikango-Odibo gravel road is totally washed away for almost one kilometre as well as the Omafo-Engela Road.
The Ministry of Defence has two helicopters in the Ohangwena Region to carry out emergency evacuations.
Kaapanda said the Road Contractor Company responded timely in addressing the damage on the roads. As a result, a number of roads across the regions have been repaired and are open to traffic.
He, however, noted that some roads cannot be repaired due to the high volume of water.
“The floods taught us lessons and consequently we are reviewing the design of all roads and bridges in order to come up with appropriate designs, which will remain standing in case of another flood. The Roads Authority will also review the type of existing culverts with a view to introduce better ones.
“This natural calamity has compelled us to review our master plan in order to re-prioritise our five year plan. We will prioritise and address the critical roads connecting schools, hospitals and other important centres to be constructed first,” said Kaapanda.
In the Omusati Region, Kaapanda assessed the damage caused at Olupaka Bridge and other roads up to Omugulugwombashe.
He appealed to companies and individuals to help those affected by the floods and complement Government efforts.
Roads Authority Chief Executive Officer, Erastus Ikela, accompanied Kaapanda.
Ikela cleared the air over speculations going around Oshakati that the Okandjengendi Bridge between Oshakati and Ongwediva has a crack as result of the floods.
He said the bridge is still intact and the suspected cracks are only expansion joints and that people should not panic.
Other officials who accompanied the minister are: Roads Authority Senior Engineer Petrus Makale, Roads Authority District Manager – Oshakati, Temba Silas Titus, and the Director of Transportation and Infrastructure in the Ministry of Works and Transport, Asteria Nashea. Governor of Oshana Clemens Kashuupulwa and Governor of Omusati, Sackey Kayone, accompanied the minister to assess the damage in their regions respectively.