OKONDJATU – The upgrading of the 231km Otjinene-Grootfontein road to be funded by the government to the tune of N$575 million will start early next year following the groundbreaking ceremony yesterday.
The main contractor on the project is Chinese company, China Henan International Cooperation Group (Pty) and it is expected to complete the work in 30-months starting January 16 next year. The project is expected to create at least 300 jobs. The road will be a continuation of the bitumen road between Gobabis and Otjinene inaugurated by President Hifikepunje Pohamba last year.
“The road will contribute to the enhancement of safety, comfort and the cost of travel in the Omaheke and Otjozondjupa regions as it services… Otjinene, Okondjatu, Okamatapati, Coblenz and Grootfontein,” said Prime Minister Dr Hage Geingob in his keynote address. Reiterating what he said at Rosh Pinah last week, Geingob emphasized that the government is serious and fully committed to investing in critical infrastructure projects such as the upgrading of the national road network, adding that development of the road network will allow access to areas previously considered remote and inaccessible.
“This will allow citizens living in those areas to be easily accessible and to become active participants in the economic development of our country,” Geingob said.
The Prime Minister further said access to proper infrastructure means empowerment as can be adduced from history,
adding that those regions that do not have access to proper infrastructure are not only under-developed, but their inhabitants are also the most vulnerable to poverty and exploitation. “Under-development is also a fertile breeding ground for crime and diseases. Therefore, it is our objective to remove the legacy of under-development which was a deliberate ploy by the Apartheid regime, to subjugate our people by limiting accessibility and therefore fostering ignorance and suspicion among our citizens,” he stressed. He further said the economic benefits and development associated with the project will be continuous. “This is not a mere campaign as many of you might think, this has been part of the government’s 10-year plan, but due to arrangements [related to securing funds] it only happened now,” he said. “The construction project alone will stimulate small- and medium-size businesses along the route since a significant amount of services are required by the contractor throughout the 30-month construction period,” Geingob said.
He advised those who will receive employment through the project to take good care of their jobs. “Take pride in your jobs. Many of your fellow citizens are struggling to find jobs and this is why government is investing in projects such as these.” According to the prime minister the aim of public works projects such as the upgrading of the Otjinene-Grootfontein road is not only to ease transportation and accessibility, but to create jobs. “So take pride in the work that you will be doing and that pride will manifest itself into great results, not only for you and your communities, but for the nation as a whole,” Geingob stressed. He also appealed to public officials both at local and regional level, especially the leadership and the technical staff of the Ministry of Works and Transport to continue cooperating in order to promote the development and maintenance of the national road network and to ensure seemless traffic continuity, locally, nationally and regionally. Geingob also appealed to motorists to bear in mind that the nation’s roads are not race courses, but vital highways that are meant to transport people and goods and to enhance service delivery. “In this spirit, and also since we are approaching the festive season, I would like to remind those present here today and all our citizens nationwide once again to be more careful when driving on our roads by adhering to the speed limits.”
The Deputy Minister of Works and Transport , Kilus Nguvauva, who also attended the event said the road was identified as a logical extension of the Trans-Kalahari Highway, and is meant to link the northern regions of Namibia and southern Angola to Botswana and South Africa. “The road will greatly enhance safety, comfort and cost of travel, because it will serve many towns,” he said. “This road in return, makes it possible for goods and services to reach our people in all parts of the country,” said the Otjozondjupa Regional Governor Samuel Nuujoma on his part. Nuujoma said the road in particular will facilitate the easy movement of goods, services, as well as people from Otjinene and Grootfontein and vice versa. “Our local farmers in the area will benefit from this project, because it will provide them with better access for their products destined for wider markets,” he said.
By Kuzeeko Tjitemisa