KEETMANSHOOP – Keetmanshoop Rural constituency councillor Elias Kharugab says poor road conditions are part of the contributing factors leading to fatal accidents in the //Kharas region.
Kharugab was reacting to a deadly accident that recently claimed three lives on the Keetmanshoop-Koës road.
“I have approached the respective authorities on several occasions to consider upgrading the Keetmanshoop-Aroab and Keetmanshoop-Koës roads to bitumen standard or ideally tar the roads, but to no avail,’’ the councillor raised the concern.
Kharugab added that the road network challenge was furthermore hampering economic development in the constituency.
“Currently 90% of residents preferred to do business in nearby Keetmanshoop since big commercial companies and banks are unwilling to penetrate the market in our area because of fearing financial losses when transporting goods on these dusty roads,’’ he said.
This, according to him, deprives villages like Koës and Aroab of the much-needed financial injection for development. The politician further argued his constituency is entitled to proper road infrastructure just like other constituencies in the region. He also said that people are losing their lives on these roads whilst maintaining vehicles at a costly rate.
Harldt Maletzky, who is farming along the Aroab road, said it is rather risky for him to visit his farm during weekends, saying he has to continuously pay for wear and tear costs on his vehicles.
He added that it is mainly the dustiness of the roads which hold the greatest danger because the vision of motorists is heavily affected when travelling in opposite directions.
“Government should really improve the conditions of these roads as a matter of urgency,’’ he pleaded.
Businessman Melvin Kröhne, who travels on the two roads once a week, said he suffers heavy financial losses during the rainy season.
“These roads are totally inaccessible when it rains and one must then make use of the much longer Karasburg detour road in order to reach Keetmanshoop,’’ he explained with great concern.
He added that a feasibility study was carried out two years ago to upgrade the roads, but nothing has happened until now.
“If these roads are made more easily accessible it can then connect to neighbouring South Africa and Botswana which in return can hold in big economic benefits for the constituency and the region as a whole.”
Roads Authority spokesperson Hileni Fillemon said the dustiness of the two roads was mainly due to the fact it was constructed with shale, which tends to be dusty. “The roads were re-gravelled in 2004, 2005 and 2006 with the Roads Contractor Company as contractor at the time,’’ she said.
Fillemon added that due to various factors some sections are in need of another re-gravelling cycle.
“Therefore, provided road users stay within the speed limit of 100km/h while driving this gravel road, there should not be any problems,’’ Fillemon emphasised. She also said according to the five-year strategic plan, which ends in 2023, the Keetmanshoop-Aroab road was listed for an upgrade whilst a feasibility has already been carried out for a surfaced road.
“The Keetmanshoop-Koës road on the other hand is not part of the five-year strategic plan,’’ she said. Fillemon continued that the upgrading of roads is in most cases delayed due to not being feasible at that point and time. She added that the availability of funds plays a big role as well.
“The Roads Authority always ensures that all our roads are safe for motorists at all times and we would like to appeal to all road users to always adhere to road rules, adjust to conditions on it and be vigilant at all times.” The two roads have claimed four lives in the last three months, according to information obtained from the police.