The City of Windhoek (CoW) needs N$4.8 billion to fully implement its Sustainable Urban Public Transport Master Plan until 2030, which aims to improve public transport and involves the upgrading of mayor arterial roads into high density areas such as the central business district (CBD). It is envisaged that once this plan is implemented it will result in less congested roads in the capital as well as more parking spaces in the CBD. Heavy traffic congestion and a severe lack of parking spaces in Windhoek have been attributed rapid urbanisation, the constant influx of people, an increase in vehicle ownership, as this is seen as a status symbol, as well as the lack of reliable public transport.
According to CoW spokesperson, Joshua Amukugo, funding options to obtain the N$4.8 billion include approaching government or financing institutions such as the African Development Bank and “so called” Green Funds. A mutual fund or other investment vehicle that will only invest in companies that are deemed socially conscious in their business dealings or directly promote environmental responsibility. A green fund is type of investment vehicle for companies engaged in environmentally supportive businesses, such as alternative energy, green transport, water and waste management, and sustainable living.
The City is in the process of implementing the Sustainable Urban Public Transport Master Plan. This is a comprehensive plan that includes busses, taxi, non-motoring transport (NMT) and efficient land use in reducing trips. The purchase of the new busses, with which the city has already started, and introducing new bus lines is an integral part the plan. The idea is to eventually introduce a complete new bus network, of which some lines will be systematically upgraded to priority lines and Bus Rapid Transport (BRT), according to anticipated demand. City planners also envisage that by 2030 some bus lines will warrant the introduction of light rail. Also, numerous arterial roads need upgrading to accommodate priority lines and BRT, to make provision for all modes of transport.
“At this stage feasibility studies are first needed on how best to implement the priority and BRT lines, considering space constraints while NMT such as bicycling and walking infrastructure improvement, also forms part of the plan,” said Amukugo.
Furthermore, according to parking studies conducted by the CoW, there will soon be a shortage of about 3000 parking spaces throughout the CBD. “Such prediction is greatly dependent on actual growth rate and development taking place in the CBD, also taking into account any public transport improvements, implying the more people use public transport, the less parking is required,” Amukugo explained. he noted that numerous recommendations have been made to cater for such future shortfall such as various erven throughout the CBD that were reserved for future parking lots. “Unfortunately all of the vacant erven that were reserved for future parking provisions in the CBD were sold by (Windhoek City) Council, with the last remaining two erven currently out on tender,” Amukugo stated.
“Some public parking provision is incorporated to form part of such tenders, providing some parking alleviation. The latest study, conducted in 2004, showed that the CBD will as from 2015 not have enough space to absorb any large increase in vehicles, implying no place to store such vehicles due to lack of parking. Vacant land in the CBD remains a scarce commodity and is high in demand,” Amukugo noted. He added that the City made its intentions clear that it would rather avail such land for development instead of retaining the land for parking. In addition, if the land is not used for development then eventually the city simply runs out of necessary resources to develop parking lots, which means the land then remains undeveloped and unoccupied.
“Developing parking within the CBD has shown to be very costly and not being financial viable, equally considering limited resources and other priorities and challenges the City is facing. Without available land and adequate resources to create additional parking, options that remain would be to improve public transport to ensure lesser vehicles having to enter the CBD,” Amukugo reiterated.
Transportation studies conducted, incorporating the City’s growth rate and latest travel patterns, have confirmed that numerous arterial roads need upgrading to accommodate congestion. Upgrading plans were developed for the years 2005 to 2010, 2010 to 2015, 2015 to 2020 and onwards. “At present the City is experiencing a backlog while the majority of the arterial road upgrading envisaged until 2015 has not realised due to lack of funds. The problem is not the lack of planning but securing funds for road upgrading, which enjoys a lesser political priority. At present the implementation of the Sustainable Urban Public Transport Master Plan is enjoying preference above any arterial road upgrading,” said Amukugo.