OSHAKATI – Local taxi operators that drive between Oshakati and Outapi have alerted Woema regarding the deteriorating road conditions on that stretch of the road.
Woema took the journey from Oshakati to Outapi, to verify the complaints of the taxi operators. The pictures were sent to the Executive Secretary of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), Eugene Tendekule, who is of the opinion that the road is a concern.
“I have looked at the pictures and would only agree that safety is compromised. In instances where the shoulders are steep, it is common practice to provide guardrails. The intention being to keep the vehicle within the road. I have observed the tendency to do very little in terms of signage on rural roads. The reason could be low traffic volumes,” said Tendekule.
Taxi drivers complain that they pay car licences at NaTIS Outapi but the money is not used for road maintenance, as claimed by Road Authority. “I have been a driver on this road for more than five years, and I can tell you that the road is falling apart. The potholes are so big that they damage our cars, and then they will be the first one to complain that we drive ‘skorokoros’, putting our customers’ lives in danger,” said one concerned taxi driver.
The road is full of gigantic potholes with no warnings, road signage is old and faded and seem to be from the pre-independence era. There are no guardrails, reflective markings, chevrons, and road markings such as solid lines.
Immediately as you leave Oshakati, at the turn off to Omungwelume, there is a T-junction with no road markings and/or road signage. No chevron warning drivers from Omungwelume that the road is coming to an end and that drivers need to turn either left or right. People that are not from the area, will find it difficult to manoeuvre at the said junction.
While Woema was taking pictures at the said junction, an accident almost occurred from two vehicles following each other from Oshakati, as the driver of the one turning to Omungwelume failed to indicate his intention to turn and the one following was too close, hammering its brakes to avoid a crash.
“We should also be mindful of the fact that the Roads Authority has, over the years, struggled to get the necessary funding for periodic maintenance and rehabilitation of the country’s roads. To this end, the inherited maintenance backlog is not fully liquidated.
“In addition, many roads in Namibia have outlived their lifespan of about 15 to 20 years. It is just a matter of time before these roads start to fail in big numbers. I hope that when that happens, we will not be overwhelmed by the level of investment that will be needed for their reconstruction.
“It will be interesting to know what mechanism is in place to keep track of the level of deterioration of all roads countrywide. In other countries, periodic assessments (every five years) of the entire road network is done and on the basis of the findings maintenance programmes are designed prioritising the most affected roads. One such programme is the International Road Assessment Programme. We have been calling for a similar system in Namibia to no avail. I think it is about time that we look into this direction, especially now that the country is fairly covered by good roads unlike at independence,” said Tendekule.
Woema could not get input from the Roads Authority spokesperson, Hileni Fillemon, by the time of going to print, despite input been requested over a month ago.