RA hamstrung

Buckles under N$3bn funding shortfall

21 June 2019 | Infrastructure

The Roads Authority (RA) says it does not have adequate funding for the rehabilitation and maintenance of national roads, and that the road-user charges collected are not enough.

The parastatal said the shortfall in funding from the government for 2019/20 is causing delays in the payment of contractors.

In its reporting to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economics and Public Administration on Wednesday, the RA said it requires about N$6.4 billion to maintain the national road network, but only N$3.5 billion was approved.

The Road Fund Administrator (RFA) has paid over close to N$2 billion collected from road users to the RA, and the RA got a further N$1.5 billion from government through loans and grants.

The number of vehicles in the country are estimated at 385 485.

“In terms of our funding requirements, we need more but we get less, but we are managing to achieve high results with less resources,” said the RA CEO Conrad Lutombi.

The road projects implemented for the 2019/20 financial year include the 4.4 km road between Oshakati-Okatana-Endola, the remaining 27km dual carriageway between Windhoek and Okahandja and the 92km Swakopmund-Henties Bay-Uis-Kamanjab road.

Also among the projects is the 10km first phase of the Windhoek-airport road, the 30km road between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, which runs behind Dune 7, the 55km Namalubi-Isize Luhonono road, the rehabilitation of the road over the Swakopmund rail bridge and various rural access roads in Omusati covering 78 kilometres.

The Henties Bay-Kamanjab-Uis road was not budgeted for in the 2017/18 financial year when it was first mooted, but the RA at that time was adamant that it would form part of the Trans-Kunene corridor.

Lutombi said with funding from German bank KfW, 10 access roads were opened in the Omusati Region last week. Five more of these roads are still to come in Omusati, after which more rural access roads in Ohangwena and Kavango West are to be constructed.



Helping RCC

Asked if the RA should not reach out to the flailing Road Construction Company (RCC), Lutombi said the RA has given the RCC “priority since its inception”.

“Up to now there are projects carried by the RCC and we are still willing to give them priority,” Lutombi said.



Mixing politics with tenders?

Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) MP Mike Kavekotora said he “has been informed” that the RA is giving tenders to “Swapo people”.

“Hence tenders end up in the hands of 'our people'. Who are these 'our people'?” Kavekotora asked, and added that Namibian resources should be used more prudently.

Lutombi countered the claim, saying: “I want to assure you that there is no such practice in the RA. There is no such policy. The government has never issued a policy to us to say that we have to give tenders to 'our people'.”

Kavekotora also took issue with the fact that the RA in its strategic plan for the financial years 2018 to 2023 included an excerpt from the 2014 Swapo election manifesto.

“Our objective of including this [the Swapo manifesto] is that a road does not belong to a political party; it belongs to the Namibian people. If a political party has prioritised that road, and we put it that it has been prioritised by this political party, what we are interested in is the users of that road. That is really what we should take note of. It is the users in the end that have benefitted from that,” Lutombi explained.



CATHERINE SASMAN