Omuthiya-Heavy rains have caused extensive damage to roads at the copper town of Tsumeb, to such an extent that motorists find it difficult to navigate through the maze of potholes.
Moreover, the rehabilitation of these roads has been adversely affected by the lack of funds from the Road Fund Administration (RFA) – the agency tasked with road maintenance. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tsumeb, Alfeus Benjamin, highlighted this problem in a recent interview.
Tsumeb operates on a limited budget of between N$1 million and N$1.3 million, which he said is not sufficient to fully rehabilitate all the roads riddled with potholes.
The RFA usually refunded the municipality for all the work it had done to maintain the roads, based on the kilometres of road with potholes.
“Once the rainy season is over we have to redo all the bitumen surfaces and rebuild some gravel roads, and then we have to submit all the work and kilometres to them for a refund.
“Normally the budget we receive from the RFA for revamping the roads is between N$1 million to N$1.3 million. We are in discussion with them to see how we can increase the budget because it is not sufficient.
“Particularly, since we also have to rehabilitate sections of the B1 like Hage Geingob Drive, which is a national road,” Benjamin emphasised.
Meanwhile, the Tsumeb Municipality has undertaken temporary measures by filling up the potholes with makeshift materials, but this has little effect because it rains nearly every day and the filled in materials wash away.
He also pointed out the huge volumes of traffic driving over the filled potholes with the result that the material did not firmly cement.
“We cannot count vehicles anymore because they have increased tremendously. It is a temporary situation, but it is very difficult to really repair all the roads now when it is raining,” he added.
In the same vein, Benjamin urged drivers to be cautious and drive slowly so they did not to damage their cars, and reiterated that the municipality was really trying to address the situation.
“Every time we want to work, rain comes. Now we have just decided to use certain materials daily just to fill up the potholes.
“It does not help that you work them today and the next day it rains and all is washed away. But we are hoping by mid-April we will have all the roads repaired,” Benjamin stated.
He assured residents that by the end of the rainy season they would commission proper rehabilitation work, although he described this year’s damage as the worst he has ever seen. He attributed this to the deteriorating standards of the roads over the past few years.
“The roads have been deteriorating for seven years and we do not have enough funds for a total overhaul, as road maintenance has to compete with other projects such as the servicing of land.
“We hope to carry out normal rehabilitation after March and see how we can obtain funding to start resurfacing some of the major roads that are heavily damaged such as Hage Geingob and Sam Nujoma Drives, as well as Lineekela Kalenga Street.
“Only then can we go ahead, because it is only a question of money,” the Tsumeb CEO further explained.