Ambitious plans announced by the Ministry of Works and Transport to construct earth roads measuring 900 kilometres, as part of its Master Plan for sustainable transport for the four northern regions, will no doubt bring about tangible development to ordinary Namibians.
Road infrastructure is the key prerequisite for social and economic development. Road transport is the most used mode of travel, which connects rural areas to urban centres, and this development will therefore bring about radical change.
Roads stimulate commerce; unlock investment and facilitate the movement of people, goods and services, which are all linked to development.
The entire project will cost N$12,8 billion, which shows how committed our government is to the development of all the regions and to ensuring no Namibian is left out of government’s development narrative.
This is clearly articulated in the National Developments Plans (NDPs), complemented by the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) unveiled by President Hage Geingob, which maps out government’s transformational development trajectory from 2016 to 2020.
To briefly revisit HPP, some of its staying power is anchored in social progression, and more importantly infrastructure development. This includes the construction of roads, bridges, schools, clinics, hospitals and other important social frameworks the country cannot do without.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) previously rated Namibia’s road infrastructure as being among the best in the world – similar in quality to roads in Britain and Puerto Rico.
This is no small feat for a newly emergent country, and it just shows the seriousness of our government’s engagement in the efforts to provide quality roads and other social infrastructure.
Namibia has positioned itself as the gateway to markets in the SADC region and its road network extends beyond its borders.
Government, cognisant of Namibia’s advantageous geographical location in SADC, has year after year continued to invest heavily in its roads to ensure the country becomes linked to other countries in SADC, such as Angola, Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Thus, the constant expansion and upgrading of our road network is important towards boosting economic performance both within Namibia, and in the context of SADC – the regional economic and political grouping of which we are a member.
Poor road infrastructure, or the lack of investment in this sector, will only hinder our ability to maximise on trade and investment opportunities and this could stunt domestic investment and thus our competitiveness.
The majority of the population uses roads to travel around the country because air-transport is unaffordable and trains are out of the question because not all regions have a well-developed railway network.
However, road coverage is adequate for the country to move forward because of the constant investment in this sector, as the N$12,8 billion road construction projects mooted for the northern regions attest to.