…Mutorwa impressed with ongoing construction
Works and transport minister John Mutorwa on Monday visited the massive road works underway in and around Windhoek, expressing his satisfaction with ongoing progress. Mutorwa visited the freeways from Windhoek to Rehoboth, Windhoek to Hosea Kutako International Airport and Windhoek to Okahandja.
Mutorwa noted that it is crucial and commendable under the current economic challenges and unemployment that most locals are catered for at the site.
“Apart from the delays, as the result of Covid-19, contractors are relatively on schedule. The country is doing well in the development of roads,” said Mutorwa.
He stated that the development of roads will boost economic activities and tourism for the country. Mutorwa mentioned that while money will never be enough, what matters is prioritising.
During the site visits, the main contractor of the Windhoek to Okahandja road, Orian Technology and Engineering Services Africa (OTESA) Managing Director Schalk van Niekerk revealed his site employed about 500 Namibians.
He said when the project commenced in August 2019, construction was spearheaded by about 40 foreigners, with the aim of skills transfer to locals who at first lacked adequate capacity to do the work. Now, the number of foreigners on the contract stand at less than 15.
OTESA owns 60% of the joint venture with an Italian company Cooperativa Muratori Cementisti Ravenna (CMC), which owns 40% of the Windhoek to Okahandja road contract.
Furthermore, Van Niekerk said the pandemic significantly raised company expenditure, as they had to buy personal protective equipment for employees. He said they also had to avail new buses for employees due to passenger number restrictions. He continued that the water shortage was the main challenge due to the drought the country had experienced at the point of commencement.
The completed Windhoek to Okahandja freeway is expected to be availed for public use by July 2022, with the final construction to be completed in October 2022. Van Niekerk noted that they are building about ten bridges and drainage structures. According to him, the completed phase of 27km was valued at N$1.1 billion and said they are busy with the continuation phase of 23km valued at N$1 billion. The total 50km road from Windhoek to Okahandja is being completed at a cost of N$2.1 billion.
“The 23km completion of freeway concrete is three times the quantity of the 27km freeway to be completed. The first completion we used concrete of about 15 000 cubic meters compared to 44 000 cubic meters for the second phase,” said the managing director.
He also pointed out that they have spent almost 70% of their N$1 billion budget on local expenditure, which he said is very good for the local economy.
Meanwhile, CEO of the Road Authority Conrad Lutombi said contractors of the Windhoek to Hosea Kutako International Airport freeway experienced challenges of traffic while constructing.
Furthermore, Lutombi said they are going to fence off the freeway for safety reasons.
Lutombi said the authority will coordinate with the City of Windhoek to avail public transport to new drop off spots to avoid accidents when pedestrians cross freeways, particularly at crowded places.