Okondjatu-The current slowdown in economic growth is not a deterrent to the government’s investment in infrastructure, President Hage Geingob said.
This is because infrastructure such as new roads do not only facilitate the movement of goods, people and services, but are also crucial in the socio-economic development of communities.
The president said this on the outskirts of Okondjatu in the Otjozondjupa Region yesterday when he officially opened the 131km section one of the trunk road between Otjinene and Okamatapati, which cost N$575 million.
“Scholars in economics have identified road infrastructure as a key prerequisite of the social and economic development of any country,” he said.
“In Namibia, where road transport is the most widely used mode of travel, it is vital that our road infrastructure is able to connect all regions, particularly rural areas with urban centres, in order to stimulate commerce, investment and the movement of people, goods and services.”
He made the remarks to a huge crowd of mostly local people who gathered to celebrate the momentous occasion.
He noted that Namibia’s advantageous geographical location in the region extends the importance of its road infrastructure beyond its borders into SADC, and thus adds value to this infrastructure in a regional context.
“The constant expansion and upgrading of our road network is vital to increase economic performance, both within Namibia and within the SADC region in general. For poor road infrastructure hinders our ability to attract and retain foreign investments while enhancing domestic investments and thus our competitiveness,” said Geingob.
The Otjinene-Okamatapati road forms part of the southern African regional trunk road linking Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana with Angola via Namibia, making this stretch of road quite significant in the regional transport scheme.
The road project, which entailed the upgrading to bitumen standard of the existing gravel road, forms part of the bigger picture to provide a completely tarred road all the way from Otjinene to Grootfontein.
Once complete the road is expected to become one of the primary economic enablers within Otjozondjupa and Omaheke regions, which could potentially lead to higher employment levels and more business opportunities in the area.
The road’s opening signified some personal satisfaction for Geingob, who officiated as then minister of trade and industry at its ground-breaking ceremony in December 2013.
“In Namibia and across the SADC region we are cognisant of the fact that our aspirations of economic development and integration will only be attained if we are able to develop critical transport infrastructure,” Geingob added.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Roads Authority (RA) chairperson Hileni Kaifanua said the provision of safe and efficient roads is an essential part of the country’s socio-economic development strategy, in which the RA continues to play a vital role.
“The economic slowdown has impacted on our performance in terms of projects. However, we will continue to deliver on our mandate by optimally utilising our financial resources at hand and by focusing our attention on activities which create and drive value for our operations,” said Kaifanua.
During yesterday’s welcoming remarks, the governor of Otjozondjupa Region, Otto Ipinge, revealed that the entire Otjinene to Grootfontein project is scheduled for completion at the end of the current financial year. Ipinge encouraged businesses to take advantage of the road project and singled out tour operators whom he advised to structure packages to include both the Otjozondjupa and Omaheke regions. These packages, he said, could even be extended to include far-off Victoria Falls, which can be accessed either via Gobabis or Grootfontein.