KEETMANSHOOP – The Governor of the //Karas region Bernadus Swartbooi has sourced funding of close to N$2 million for the upgrading of dirt roads to bitumen standard in Keetmanshoop.
Taupele Namibia, Southern Road Construction and HFT Hire funded the N$1 million for the upgrade of the 1-kilometre Wheeler Road to the governor’s office and //Karas regional offices.
The Namibian Development Corporation under the Ministry of Trade and Industry has pledged N$875 000 for the tarring of the dirt road that runs from Renchia’s Take Away to the !Homs Ai SME market in Kronlein.
Speaking at the opening of the newly upgraded road, Swartbooi highlighted that a study done by his office has uncovered that the Keetmanshoop Municipality is still sitting on N$4 million meant for upgrading the town’s roads over the last four years.
He said it also came to light after he appealed to the Roads Authority (RA) to avail additional funds for the tarring of roads in smaller settlements and villages that the RA does not avail more money should previous projects not be executed.
In light of the health risks posed by dust from the many dirt roads in the town, Swartbooi urged local authorities to approach local business people for support to tar the roads of towns and settlements in the region.
“We have so many dust roads and so many people with tuberculosis,” he said referring to a report he compiled with medical experts on the impact of dust on people’s health.
He said dust adversely affects driving and aggravates heart and lung conditions and is especially a concern for sensitive people with respiratory challenges.
Meanwhile, the Strategic Executive: Corporate Affairs and Human Resources at the Keetmanshoop Municipality, André Blaauw, denied claims that the municipality had access to the N$4 million dollars mentioned by Swartbooi .
“It is only this year that we received N$4 million, it was never four million in the past. Last year we had N$2 million but we could not tar roads because all this time we had to develop erven out of our own pockets. It is only this year that we received assistance from government through TIPEEG (Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth) and the Mass Housing Scheme. And you cannot tar a road with N$4 million, the shortest road we will tar is 1.8km and it will cost us N$5.7 million. We cannot tar anything with the money we had,” he said, adding that the municipality has no current cash flow like the central government and mainly collects its funds for development through service payments.
“We must look at the cash flow, and there is no way that you can tar a road with N$1 million – I am working through a consultant Knights Piésoldt and they gave me an estimate of N$5.7 million. Someone is lying or someone is stealing. Something is not true,” he said in response to why the municipality failed to tar roads with alleged funds of N$4 million, while a private donor allegedly managed the same job with N$1 million.
Knights Piésold is an international consulting company providing engineering and environmental services for the mining, power, water, transportation and construction sectors.
The Keetmanshoop Municipality is also currently in the process of servicing 236 erven under TIPEEG.
Servicing of these erven is expected to finish early in 2014 and is being done by TJ Civil Construction.
TIPEEG is meant to stimulate targeted economic activities, mainly those that would serve as catalysts for employment growth and establish the necessary business operating environments for the development of strategic economic sectors.
The focus on employment reflects the attention being duly paid to the grassroots levels of the economy while pursuing broader macro-economic objectives. With that said, it is logical that TIPEEG was conceptualised to complement the national development agenda by expediting projects, some of which were mostly already in the pipeline, e.g. the national port expansion and public works programmes.
By Jemima Beukes