Keetmanshoop – Leaders in the //Karas region feel left out and have expressed their dissatisfaction over the condition of roads in the region, saying little is being done in terms of road infrastructure development.
During a consultative meeting held last Friday between the //Karas Regional Governor, Lucia Basson and her regional councillors and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Roads Authority (RA) Conrad Lutombi and his team, the regional leaders were blunt saying they felt their region is excluded when it comes to roads infrastructure development. Leading the deliberations, Basson stated that the general feeling of the people of the south is that they are left out, pointing out that for the past 26 years, only a few roads have been built, unlike in other regions. Basson questioned why her region does not get the same attention when it comes to roads construction, compared to other regions, stating that the region needs government services, irrespective of its population size.
“Even if we are few in the region, we also need development. We are also Namibians,” she said.
She furthermore called on RA to rehabilitate the Mariental-Grunau road, stating that driving on the road has become very uncomfortable.
Driving on “this road feels like you are on the back of a horse, it’s very bad,” she noted.
Keetmanshoop Rural Constituency Councillor Elias Kharuxab did not mince his words during the consultative meeting, saying the RA has done nothing for the region in the last 26 years.
An unhappy Kharuxab, was especially not impressed that after so many years, the 160-kilometre road between Keetmanshoop-Aroab is yet to be upgraded.
“I’m not happy with Roads Authority, we get little from that cake and since independence nothing has been done to improve the roads in the region,” lamented the Keetmanshoop rural constituency councillor.
He further said the region, which offers wealth in terms of the vast natural resources, receives so little from the national cake, while other regions receive a large chunk of the cake.
“I don’t want to mention regions but we want to see that chunk of money spent on other regions also spent in our region,” he stated.
The regional leaders also expressed concern over contractors, who come to the region with their own workers, saying this should be discouraged as the people from the region should benefit from these projects by getting jobs.
In a carefully worded response, Lutombi emphasised that lack of monetary resources remains a big challenge, saying there are not enough funds to build all the roads infrastructure at once.
“We just ask people to be patient while government tries to get more resources,” he said.
Lutombi said the decision as to which national roads are constructed is made by the board, and is not based on which is more important than the other but rather which can bring economic benefits to the country. He also pointed out that during the colonial era, an imbalance was created and some parts of the country were entirely left out in terms of development and thus if such areas are given priority it is to bring them on par with the rest.
While supporting the empowerment of locals when government projects are rolled out, he warned against regionalism saying a country cannot be built in that fashion.
“We should be very careful with regionalism when developing a country, because from there it will turn to tribalism and then it becomes a problem,” he said.
The meeting was aimed at sharing the RA planned and current operations in the region and to listen to local concerns.