Okapanda — THE Minister of Works, Errki Nghimtina, says many communities and small businesses have benefitted from his ministry's labour-based works policy. He said this when he officially opened the new 40-kilometre gravel road between Outapi and Okahao in the Omusati Region on Friday.
Nghimtina said the policy was aimed at improving standards in a sustainable way, through increasing income generation and job opportunities.
The project started small in 2007 with only two labour-based road projects which included six contractors.
Today, the Roads Authority is working with 40 small and medium enterprise (SME) contractors in partnership with nine civil engineering plant contractors on nine road-building projects.
Nghimtina said more than 600 kilometres of gravel roads have been built with labour-based methods, whereby local people are used to do some of the work.
This, Nghimtina said, has resulted in the temporary employment of 1 800 people in the construction of gravel roads in the Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Kavango and Caprivi regions, which was made possible by grants from the German government and the European Commission.
“There are substantial socio-economic benefits for local people whenever labour-based road projects take place and we are aware that the price of labour-based roads is higher than conventional projects, but in the government's effort to empower and improve the social status of our people, labour-based projects outweigh the additional financial costs,” Nghimtina said.
The ministry in collaboration with Roads Authority has decided to offer a tender training programme for SME contractors. He said so far 17 one-week courses have been completed and 233 out of 360 participants have successfully completed the course financed by the Namibian and German governments.
“The analysis of all projects executed to date has shown that the SME portion of the completed road projects is around 45% of the final construction costs,” said Nghimtina.
The chairperson of Road Authority board of directors, Hileni Kaifanwa, said there is still a long way to go in the construction of roads in Namibia because only 6 664 kilometres are tarred out of more than 46 645 kilometres of roads.
She said tarred roads cost N$1 million per kilometre.