Gobabis — Construction of the road between Otjinene and Grootfontein is expected to start early January 2014, according to Conrad Lutombi, the Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Roads Authority (RA).
Lutombi revealed this at the official opening and inauguration of the Gobabis weighbridge on Monday. "We have already completed Phase 1 (Gobabis-Otjinene road) and already appointed consulting engineers for Phase 2," he said, adding that tenders for construction of the second phase should be out by October.
"It is quite a big project and the cost is not known yet," he said. The Otjinene to Grootfontein road is to be upgraded from gravel to bitumen standard, in the same way that the 157 km of gravel road between Gobabis and Otjinene was upgraded at a cost of about N$400 million.
Lutombi remarked that Phase 2 could take about two years to complete. He said the RA was also finalising the terms of reference for the Gobabis, Aminuis and Aranos roads that also need upgrading. According to him the construction of these roads would not be as labour intensive, since more heavy machinery would be used for that stretch. However, the RA would still engage locals as sub-contractors as much as possible.
Deputy Minister of Works and Transport, Kilus Nguvauva, who officiated at the official opening of the weighbridge, said the government has approved the construction of twelve weighbridges, in addition to the ones at Ariamsvlei and Noordoewer at strategic locations nationwide.
This, he said, was for the purpose of controlling overloading of heavy vehicles. "Thus far, the assigned agency, namely the Roads Authority, has successfully constructed seven weighbridges at Onhuno, Walvis Bay, Brakwater, Aris, Katima Mulilo, Oshivelo and Rosh Pinah," he said. He added that another three weighbridges would be constructed - at Rundu, Keetmanshoop and Otjiwarongo.
Nguvauva said the Gobabis weighbridge located on the Trans Kalahari Highway, which is increasingly handling much greater volumes of traffic to Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe, would be an effective tool to preserve the highway and the Gobabis-Leonardville main road, as well as the Gobabis-Otjinene-Grootfontein trunk roads. He said that at present, government spends an estimated N$31 million per year in maintenance and repair costs for roads damaged across the country as a result of overloading.
This is a major decrease from the N$71 million spent on maintenance and repairs during the year 2000, representing a decrease of more than N$40 million.
The Deputy Minister said the weighbridge at Gobabis would also serve as a focal point for road transportation permits, road user charge permits, abnormal permits, driver/vehicle registration and licensing, as well vehicle roadworthiness licensing.
The Gobabis weighbridge was built at a cost of N$21 million.