WINDHOEK, 19 NOV (NAMPA) -
Urban and Rural Development Minister, Sophia Shaningwa has supported the 'Sustainable Urban Transport Master Plan' initiative that aims to improve public transport in the capital city.
By the City of Windhoek (CoW), this initiative aims to better the public transport system including non-motorised transport, as well as to create alternative sustainable travel choices for motorists and alleviate traffic congestion in Windhoek.
Speaking during the launch of the project on Wednesday, Shaningwa said the current urban transportation systems are far from ideal and are characterised by traffic congestion; road accidents; a lack of accessible and affordable public transport service; and safe infrastructure for non-motorised transport.
The project will also cover traffic to and from Rehoboth, Okahandja and the Hosea Kutako International Airport. "I have no doubt that once these initiatives are implemented with the support of all stakeholders, they will have huge positive effects on the welfare of the residents of Windhoek and other urban areas in our country now and in the future," she said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Works and Transport Alpheus !Naruseb acknowledged that the transportation problems are not new, especially in urban areas where the need for transportation has always been due to the large concentration of people. Windhoek is no exception. "Like many other cities in the world, the city is growing rapidly.We can assume that the population in the greater Windhoek area will more than double in the next 20 years," he noted.
!Naruseb said the approach that is taken to develop transportation and the understanding of the inter-linkage of transport development and urban sustainability is different from past thinking and an important change that happened in the country over the past 10 years. He said the ministry will be a lead agency of the master plan's development and will be responsible for the implementation, while ensuring that all citizens can benefit from the foreseen positive developments.
The project is intended for the provision of a high quality, affordable, effective, efficient, equitable, safe, and convenient transport system that will cater for the growing population in the project area through 2032.
The Sustainable Urban Transport Master Plan was designed as a supreme reference source of guidance to accommodate ideas and replicate further transportation developments and expansions in other urban areas of the country.
"I am happy to announce the plan has been replicated with similar ambition in the Ohangwena, Omusati, Oshana and Oshikoto Regions. Windhoek being the key centre of business operations is only a gateway supplementary to incorporate standardisation as a wide range of developments are set in line with the whole nation's objectives," !Naruseb said.
CoW's acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Fillemon Hambuda said the City along with the Ministry of Works and Transport, in partnership with the German Development Agency (GIZ) in 2012 embarked upon developing a project to improve the transport needs of people living in Windhoek and the surrounding areas, which means a modern and efficient bus and non-motorised network by implementing pedestrian and cycling infrastructure.
Apart from providing a better transport system, the master plan also aims to reduce the amount residents spend on transport in the light of fighting poverty. "The majority of our people spend about 24 per cent of their disposable income on transport or they have to walk. This amount can be reduced by improving our public transport system, so that more money can be spent on other needs," said Hambuda.
He went on to say a lot of 'invisible' work has been done to implement the master plan project, such as new bus lines which will replace the current routes and the introduction of frequent additional bus service in some parts of Katutura.
Hambuda said the City takes cognisance of the investment efforts required to build up a suitable public transport system, however, the indirect benefit to Windhoek and the rest of t he country will be worthwhile. "The City is proud that we are all here today and it demonstrates our commitment to enhance the quality of life for all our people," he said.