By Hilary Mare
THE mobility of people and goods is dependent on the efficient use of existing traffic infrastructure, and the modernisation and expansion of traffic infrastructure to meet the future demand for transport services efficiently and cost-effectively.
This applies in particular to roads, since road transport accounts for more than 90percent of all passenger transport and more than 80percent of all goods transport in most countries in terms of passengers and tonnes carried. Impediments to mobility such as traffic restrictions, road blockades, closures of certain road infrastructure sections, or congestion due to bottlenecks in road infrastructure ignore fundamental factors and hence should be addressed if the economy is to be enhanced.
In essence, the Government has been prioritizing funding for the development of new roads and the refurbishing of existing infrastructure, which has unlocked the economic potential of regions, towns and settlements. Within the current MTEF, an indicative amount of N$3.27 billion has been budgeted for the road sector.
This trajectory of consistent investment in the road sector has significantly contributed to the competitiveness of the economy, trade facilitation and movement of people; thus giving impetus to the regional integration agenda. As such, the Global Competitiveness Report, published annually by the Global Economic Forum ranks the quality of Namibia’s road infrastructure at the 28th position among 188 countries surveyed globally; which is among the best in Sub-Saharan Africa, thanks to consistent investment made in the sector over the years.
This favourable ranking must thus alert responsible authorities on the opportunities in growth, potential development scope and how it can be a major player in the attainment of vision 2030 as well as the fourth national development plan NDP4.
Indeed, the economy needs reliable road infrastructure to connect supply chains and efficiently move goods and services across borders. Infrastructure connects households across metropolitan areas to higher quality opportunities for employment, healthcare and education. Clean energy and public transit can reduce greenhouse gases. This same economic logic applies to broadband networks, water systems and energy production and distribution.
A reliable and affordable road transport system forms part of the social safety net, enabling trade and employment opportunities in both urban and rural communities since it facilitates the movement of goods and services in all sector of the economy including: tourism, education, health and agriculture among others. Indeed it is a fact that road infrastructure plays a key role in the socioeconomic development of Namibia.
An effective and efficient road infrastructure will reduce cost and comparative distance between trading partners; thereby increasing trade effectiveness and maximizing returns on existing industrial investment and production. It will as well make Namibian products competitive on the world market. For Namibia to achieve its full potential there is the need for an improved road transportation system through an effective and well integrated road network.
Many investments in infrastructure are built on the belief that they will lead to poverty reduction and income generation. This has entailed massive aid-financed projects in roads within the country. There is no doubt that various Governments have done a great deal of work in the road sector, yet, there is still more to be done. Road infrastructure is one of the sectors of the economy that has contributed tremendously to poverty reduction in many African countries such as Ghana.
Over the years, the efforts of government, has to some extent, bridged the development gap between the rural and urban communities; a number of roads are being constructed across the country to enhance the economic activities of the citizenry.
The basic of economics is trading. When people trade, they travel to different places to do business, the politicians will need the road to travel around the county to meet the public, and the security agencies will also use the road to check an area for safety of the citizenry.
It is acknowledged that the development of the road sector has contributed to an increase in road transport related profession such as: insurance and logistics. Indicating a significant increase in employment level of the sector, insurance for car accidents is becoming more necessary as security for any unexpected calamity.
With government efforts in the road sector it also aimed at playing a significant role in the geographic distribution of economic growth because good roads connects business centres, region to region and countries to countries. It therefore attests to the fact that one can travel through the country within a day. It has become sufficiently apparent that there has been improvement particularly in areas relating to roads and Highways all over the country.
If all the roads awarded are completed in due time, It will translate into long term benefits in terms of poverty reduction.
Of note government fiscal operations are being undertaken with due regard to future sustainability and domestic economic development. This is demonstrated by a stable macroeconomic environment and a fully funded budget through revenue generation, development of the domestic capital market and the diversification of debt instruments.
In view of the negative impacts inefficient use or insufficient provision of road infrastructure has on the sustainable development of the economic, social and environmental development of societies government needs to maintain the free choice of transport modes and to take all measures necessary to improve mobility of people and goods, and in particular, to increase funds for road infrastructure investments both at national and multinational level.
Further it needs to allocate revenues raised from road transport to the necessary maintenance and expansion of road infrastructure, cut back and harmonise traffic restrictions, and to stop taking measures that restrain the mobility of people and goods, take all necessary measures to promote the harmonisation, simplification and acceleration of border crossing procedures, and to improve the quality and increase the capacity of border crossing related infrastructure and take preventive measures to avoid road blockades by protesters, equip tunnels with modern safety devices and monitoring techniques, in particular, and for strategic reasons, with two separate tubes, one for each direction.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015