What a nightmarish drive

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THERE is nothing we urbanites take so much for granted as our good quality of road networks, especially our tarred roads for those who have such luxury – as nowadays even having tarred roads in your neighbourhood is a luxury.

Because, believe it or not, there are many residential areas where tarred roads remain only a long-term dream. Gobabis, and many others, even Epako that must be well over 100 years in existence, hardly have any tarred streets – such luxury if one can term it a luxury, is still confined to the former white residential areas.

And prospects of having them tarred one day shall remain a pipe dream even out of the realm of visions such as Vision 2030, our grandmaster industrialization plan.

But even Gobabis and its dusty tarred roads would look like the in-thing, if one would have to cast her/his sights further and set one’s new wheel on the Gobabis-Aminuis road. I have been hearing people not only from the Aminuis constituency but also in most of our rural areas complaining about the state of our roads.

But it has never dawned on me how bad such roads can really be as this awful driving experience was visited on me and my entourage the past weekend.

Coming back from having driven on this road, I have been left with mixed feelings as to how to categorise this road. More often than not one has been hearing self-praises of Namibia being endowed with a good roads infrastructure.

These include tarred roads, gravel roads, bitumen roads and what have you. But I think after driving on the Gobabis-Aminuis road, which has been defined as a gravel road in road engineering terms, I cannot but beg to differ with such categorization.

Because it falls at best somewhere between sandy dunes or a rocky road. If the categorisation of gravel road means this, then let it be but this was my rude awakening of having to drive on some patches of rocks or stones to sand dunes on the road. For better or worse the rainy season is not here yet, which may have added another categorisation of this road, arguably one of the best that we can boast about in terms of a well-endowed road infrastructure in Namibia.

I am sure the ready apology that may come is that the patch of road may turn out to be no more worse that what we may find and/or experience in the rest of our continent. Make your pick but certainly driving on some patches of this particular road, to say the least, is nightmarish.

I have heard those from the Aminuis constituency complaining about their roads. I must say having experienced it for myself this past weekend I am an instant convert to their cause, if not to their endless exasperation.

I cannot but also muse about what speed limit applies to, and has to apply to such a road where one moment you are on a rocky terrain, next in a sand dune and then who knows what next on the very same road, and within a spell of a few minutes?

Surely the Roads Authority must be having a torrent and arduous task having to constantly assess what speed limit to recommend on such an unpredictable road, not to mention the other hazard coupled with it such as stray animals.

Not only this but I am bleeding for fellow motorists from the Aminuis constituency, and many other rural parts of our country, who may have to dig deep in their pockets, and equally like their urbanite fellows have to afford equal licence fees for roads that ever seem to be in a pitiful state.

In many respects driving on such a road is not only a hazardous and risky affair but as much as one fellow motorist and road user was rudely awakened the very same weekend when her/his car broke down because it hit one of the rocks on the road causing it to damage its sump, and to lose oil in the process.

This fellow motorist and her/his entourage was caused much convenience having to hitchhike to their final destination to attend the event they were scheduled to attend. But worse they could not properly apply themselves to the envisaged event with the nagging worry of enlisting a breakdown service back to Gobabis.

And where in the middle of this wilderness of Aminuis would they get the necessary towing service in this regard?  Surely this is a situation one would not wish to find oneself in. But for the residents of Aminuis and many others this is a daily unfortunate if not debilitating recurrence.

And is there any rectification? Your guess is as good as mine, especially now that we gearing up for the 2014 elections. Mark my word every aspiring politician would promise a good road, even a tarred one between Gobabis and Aminuis, or between many centres countrywide.

But such promises often end in nothing other than the chasing of wild geese.

But with hindsight it must be noted that in view of the development and progress that have been seeming to move at snail’s pace in our rural areas, part of the missing link is none other than the poor road network.

To some extent the undeveloped, and at times inaccessible road infrastructure in our rural areas, homes to the majority of our populace, and pivotal agricultural subsistence centres and thus supposed to be the mainstays of our agricultural economy, cannot otherwise but be a reflection of the decay and retrogression pertaining to some of our rural areas.

And the chain reaction to this fact is what is urban influx and the parallel decay we are also seeing in our urban centres.

Thus more than we would wish to admit and recognise, the betterment of our road networks in our rural areas, can partly be a springboard towards the upliftment of a bulk section of our populace, and as a corollary the problem of urbanization and the attendant squalor and poverty.

 

Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

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