THE Roads Authority yesterday commissioned 129 kilometres of the upgraded 142 kilometres M44 Road linking Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Henties Bay yesterday (Wednesday, 29 October).
The commissioning was officiated by the Deputy Minister of Works and Transport, Veikko Nekundi, on the new bridge crossing the B2 Highway, east of Swakopmund.
The 46 kilometre M44 section behind Dune 7, linking Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, is being upgraded to a dual carriage freeway at a cost of about N$1,3 billion, while the 96 kilometres M44 section between Swakopmund and Henties Bay is being upgraded to a single carriageway at a cost of N$800 million, according to Roads Authority CEO Conrad Lutombi.
This is all part of a major roads development project linking Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, Henties Bay, Omaruru, Uis, Khorixas and Kamenjab, which started in 2016 and is expected to be completed by 2025.
The objective for the development is to ensuring quicker and less−congested traffic between bulk business centres, and safer travelling for general motorists and foreigners.
With Walvis Bay seeing unprecedented developments to handle more traffic, cargo and heavy industrial business with its new container terminal and the development of the SADC Gateway Port, the harbour town continues to position itself to become the transit hub for southern Africa’s landlocked economies.
The existing road network became too old and limited to deal with the growing number of trucks to and from Walvis Bay to other destinations in Namibia and to neighbouring states on the main transit corridors.
The commissioning yesterday officially allows traffic to use the road (even though this has already started over the last year as sections of the road was completed). Lutombi said that an official opening of the road will take place next February, once all of this section is completed.
There is still a 13 kilometre section near Dune 7 that needs to reach the road linking Walvis Bay town and the Walvis Bay airport, while two bridges – the road-over-rail bridge east of Swakopmund, and the Omaruru River crossing, north of Henties Bay – that have to be completed.
The Walvis Bay to Swakopmund section is a project being handled by a joint venture between the Chinese-owned company Unik Construction Engineering Namibia and its Namibian partner, Thohi Construction.
The Swakopmund to Henties Bay section is being handled by a joint venture between the Namibian Roads Contractor Company and the Chinese Zhong Mei Engineering Group.