President Hifikepunye Pohamba says the successful completion of the 157-km road between Gobabis and Otjinene, at a cost of about N$400 million, is just one development project among many in different parts of the country geared towards creating modern transportation infrastructure to facilitate trade, commerce and the smooth movement of people, goods and services.
"We will not stop here," assured the Head of State during Friday's inauguration of the upgraded Trunk Road (TR) 14/02 at Gobabis, adding that since independence, government has identified the modernisation and expansion of national transport and communication infrastructure as important priorities.
The road is a gateway for the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) as it forms part of a larger extension of the Trans-Kalahari Highway with South Africa, via Botswana to southern Angola and beyond and will serve as a transit route for promoting cross-continental trade and regional co-operation.
Pohamba said that new road construction projects are part of the National Road Master Plan, adding that the TR 14/02 will lead to improved delivery of public services and social amenities by government offices, ministries and agencies.
He said that for farmers, the improved road would mean, among others, faster access to markets and access to agricultural extension services.
"For the community, the upgraded road will translate into safer and faster travel. I am, therefore, pleased to note that the slippery gravel road between Gobabis and Otjinene, which was accident prone, is something of the past," said Pohamba.
The President disclosed that in total, 1 336 kilometres of gravel roads have been completed, among them, the 200-km Trans-Kalahari Highway connecting Namibia with Botswana and forming part of the corridor linking the Gauteng Province in South Africa; the 204-km Kamanjab-Omakange Road and the 23-km Oshikuku-Okalongo Road.
He also mentioned the 370-km Rundu-Siko-Nkurenkuru-Elundu Road, the rehabilitation of the 77-km Okahandja-Karibib Road, which was inaugurated a week ago; the 56-km Okahao-Outapi Road and the ongoing construction of the 140-km Tsumeb-Tsintsabis-Katwitwi Road.
He said that in total, 3 429 km of paved roads have been completed around the country.
"The other part is that our people should become more entrepreneurial. Our farmers should produce more and sell their products to the market now that there is a modern road that connects them to market centres," he emphasised.
He urged business people to initiate business ventures and take advantage of the infrastructure that government has put in place.
He, however, cautioned road users to refrain from overloading as this results in the roads having a limted life span and an estimated additional annual expenditure of more than N$60 million in road maintenance.
Pohamba said that more plans are underway to design and construct phase two of the road between Otjinene and Grootfontein, envisaged to be commissioned in early 2013.
The road between Gobabis and Otjinene was initially supposed to be completed on November 13 last year, but was delayed due to heavy rainfall and shortage of equipment and material that had to be ordered from South Africa.
Otjinene Regional Councillor, Adolphus Kanguooti, said he was very happy with the completion of the road, as Otjinene is the halfway point between Johannesburg and Luanda, cutting the distance between the two cities by 600 km.
The councillor said that already there has been a lot of interest in business investment in Otjinene, such as an additional fuel station, the Checkers retailing group and others who have approached his office.
However, he bemoaned the fact that there is a shortage of serviced erven at the town, but added that he had written to the Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, Jerry Ekandjo, about possibility of expanding the town's boundaries to accommodate the business boom.
"I am happy about the quality of the road," he said, adding that some people had complained that the road is bumpy - however the road contractor, Basil Reed had assured him that it would stabilise.