Ondangwa 'ghost town' fears

The Ondangwa town council has objected to the proposed northern bypass road, claiming it would turn Ondangwa into a ghost town.

06 August 2019 | Transport

ILENI NANDJATO



The Ondangwa town council has objected to the proposed Ondangwa-Oshakati bypass project, amid fears that the northern hub would be turned into a ghost town.

The Roads Authority (RA) and the transport ministry were considering a new bypass that stretches from the B1 at Onethindi, which will relieve the congestion on the current Ondangwa-Oshakati road.

This came after the RA abandoned plans to expand the Ongwediva-Ondangwa road into a dual carriageway, due to buildings constructed in the road reserve.

According to Inge Zaamwani-Kamwi, the presidential advisor on constitutional affairs and private sector interface, who was speaking during a town hall meeting at Ongwediva yesterday, the Ondangwa town council objected to the proposed project, claiming it will turn the town into a ghost town.

"Due to the congestion on the Ondangwa-Oshakati road, there is a proposal to construct a bypass between Ondangwa and Oshakati. The Ondangwa town council requested the government to revisit the plan, claiming that once it goes ahead, it will turn Ondangwa into a ghost town," said Zaamwani-Kamwi.

"This road in any event is not in the current plans and is not yet prioritised, and therefore it is not an issue for now."

Last year, RA spokesperson Hileni Fillemon confirmed to Namibian Sun that the design for the new project was nearly complete.

She added the RA was also establishing how many people would be affected by the road cutting through their mahangu fields.

The road project is meant to reduce car crashes and traffic congestion.

“The design section of the Ondangwa-Oshakati bypass is near completion. We are positive that it will be completed before June this year,” Fillemon said at the time.

She added that construction would commence once funds were made available for the project.

The RA had initially planned to expand the Omuthiya-Ongwediva road into a dual carriageway or a highway, but due to the number of structures erected within the road reserve, the company rather opted to construct a new road bypassing Ondangwa, Ongwediva and Oshakati to the south.

“We are only going to expand the Omuthiya-Onethindi road into a dual carriageway,” Fillemon said.

She said the project would start at 15 kilometres to Omuthiya from Oshivelo, and follow the current alignment up to Onethindi.

“From Onethindi it will bypass Ondangwa, Ongwediva and Oshakati in the south and will join the main road just after Oshakati. It means we are going to construct a new road, a bypass between Ondangwa and Oshakati,” Fillemon said.

The RA changed the plan after it failed to convince owners of the structures close to the road to halt construction, although their buildings are within the prohibited distance from the main road.

Sources privy to RA affairs told Namibian Sun this was the third time that the plan had been altered.

The previous plans were also deemed too costly, according to an expert, who requested anonymity.

The RA would also have spent lots of money compensating landowners.

This was confirmed by the traditional leaders of some villages along the route. They said residents who would have been affected by the road plan were informed that it was no longer going to happen.

Denial

Fillemon denied these claims, however, saying there was no other road plan, and that the RA would not spend a lot of money on compensation.

“This information is incorrect. However, the RA's intention is to relocate a minimum number of landowners and this exercise requires a lot of route alignment planning, which we are currently busy with,” she said.

Namibian Sun reported previously that the RA was embroiled in a dispute with traditional leaders over their subjects, who are building too close to the main road between Ongwediva and Ondangwa.

Some of the builders were issued with letters ordering them to demolish their structures, but they refused and accused the RA of failing to embark on a public awareness campaign to avoid the current situation.

“It was this dispute that forced the RA to cancel the plan to expand the Ongwediva-Ondangwa road, because many builders have constructed their buildings within 100 metres of the main road, which is against the Roads Authority Act,” the source said.

In a meeting with traditional leaders at Omuthiya last month, RA engineering technician Silas Titus Temba was quoted by the information ministry as saying members of the community were cautioned against building within 100 metres from the road between 1993 and 1995.

Cuca shops under threat

If the bypass is not constructed to reduce the traffic pressure, it could mean that the cuca shops along the Oshivelo-Onethindi and Ondangwa-Oshakati roads, which are situated within the prohibited 100 metres, would be demolished to make way for the road expansion.

It was previously reported that the RA had failed to conduct public awareness campaigns to inform people not to build in the road reserve. Fillemon said the public awareness campaigns carried out between 1993 and 1995 were adequate.

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