Tourists are now relieved from using bad roads as Erikki Boas, the Director of Planning and Technical Services in the Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism, during a media briefing in Okaukuejo on Wednesday, May 24, 2023, confirmed that the ministry has improved roads and will continue to restore road infrastructures in Etosha National Park (ENP).
According to Boas, ENP has an excellent road network infrastructure that connects the park: C38 (Outjo-via Okaukuejo-Namutoni-B1), C38 (Namutoni-via King Nehale-Omuthiya-B1), and C40 (Kamanjab-Omakange-Ruacana-Otjovazandu-B1).
As a result, Boas stated that road improvement in protected areas is intended to increase mobility and accessibility of the places to park visitors while also serving as a service road for park administration.
According to him, the tourist road network in the ENP consists of around 1260 km, with the exclusion of roads on the park’s outskirts.
He further indicated that roads in Etosha are classified into three types: primary roads, which are the main roads between entrance gates and/or between camps and are approximately 460 km long, secondary roads, which are the main tourist routes leading to waterpoints and detours and are about 340 km long, and tertiary roads, which are approximately 260 km long.
“Tourist roads in ENP and other parks are generally fair to good when compared to other roads in other African countries. However, there are instances when the roads are in bad condition, creating hardship, mostly corrugations/potholes/stoniness as a result of inconsistency in road maintenance, heavy equipment grounded/old, inadequate wearing course, poor drainage system, and budgetary limits,” Boas stated.
He also mentioned that the ministry admitted that there were instances earlier when the road conditions were so severe that certain tour companies, guides, and vehicle rentals refused to enter particular areas of the park.
As a result of the influence, Boas quantified that it resulted in income loss as tourists cancelled bookings.
Meanwhile, Boas noted that, in order to minimize income loss, the Ministry began on an effort to rebuild the tourist routes in ENP from 2009/2010 to 2016/2017, prioritizing the worst portions from the center to the eastern half of the park.
“Almost the entire main road from Okaukuejo to Halali, Namutoni, and King Nehale was upgraded 282.1km,” he said.
Additionally, between 2018/2019 to 2023/2024 financial years, the ministry relaunched a project to enhance the ENP’s unrestricted western park.
Boas revealed that this project was not solely supported by the tourism ministry, but also by other stakeholders such as the Road Fund Administration (RFA).
On behalf of MEFT, he appreciated the effort from RFA for their financial support in phases 4 and 5, respectively (2020/2021-to-date).
In the meantime, the exercise has costed the ministry a total of N$ 136,910,309.83
Photo for illustrative Purposes.