By Catherine Sasman
Insufficient funding allocated to the maintenance, rehabilitation and upgrading of the existing road network during the last 10 years has led to “significant deterioration and a huge maintenance backlog”, said Minister of Works, Transport and Communication Joel Kaapanda.
A further maintenance backlog was registered on the country’s surfaced road network, with the value estimated at N$1,500 million.
He said paved roads should be resurfaced at about 10 to 15-year intervals, adding that 65 percent of the bituminous surfacings are older than 10 years.
“Namibia is renowned for maintaining one of the best gravel road networks in the world. However, recent assessments indicate that almost 30 percent of the gravel road network could be described as in ‘poor to very poor’ condition,” he said.
According to statistics from the Roads Authority, about 73 percent (which is 4 141 kilometers) of Namibia’s paved roads are more than 20 years old.
Forty percent (2 269 kilometers) of surfacing exceeds 10 years, and 25 percent is older than 15 years.
Based on the current trend of deterioration, 19 percent (1095 kilometers) of the surfaced roads will reach the end of their remaining life within a five-year period.
In a survey done in 2006, it was found that unsealed roads were in “distress” –
referring to the riding quality and other factors such as the shape, drainage and grade.
Namibia’s road network consists of 43 935 kilometers of road. The majority of the network (77 percent or 30 776 kilometers) carries less than 50 vehicles per day.
Most traffic is carried between Windhoek and Rehoboth, the capital and Okahandja and from Windhoek to Hosea International Airport (2000 vehicles per day). Traffic volumes are also significant between Walvis Bay airport and Swakopmund, and on the Ondangwa-Oshakati road links.
Moreover, contracts were awarded for the first time in October last year to do a countrywide assessment of the condition of about 600 bridges and over 2000 culverts.
Road Management Systems Manager, Sofia Tekie, said a conservative calculation of about N$13,5 billion would be required to replace the top layers and bituminous surfacing of the paved roads.
This, she said, does not include the asset of the land, value or earth works, bridge structures, road furniture or the unsealed roads.
The Roads Authority has implemented an integrated roads management system to assist the parastatal with planning and prioritizing of road maintenance and improvement projects, which was under review in the capital on Tuesday.