Lutombi spearheads SADC transport
Roads Authority Chief Executive Officer Conrad Lutombi is leading the drive to create a fully harmonised road transport system within the SADC region that can compete with the best internationally.
The Association of National Road Agencies (ASANRA) elected Lutombi as its president in October last year.
In an interview with the Windhoek Observer, Lutombi said his main objective as president would be to enhance regional policy coordination and road transport system integration, which would bring about improved intra-regional road transport efficiency and lower transport costs.
He said Namibia, through the holding of the ASANRA presidency, would be able to influence some changes in the regional road transport system to ensure that other countries recognise what Namibia has to offer.
The RA Chief Executive Officer considered this important in view of Namibia’s stated aim of becoming a logistics hub by 2017.
“For example, with traffic that originates from the Walvis Bay harbour to other countries in the region, there should be some kind of harmonisation in terms of standards, signage and traffic regulations.
“As a country we will definitely benefit and holding the presidency means we will be able to ensure that other countries recognise our laws.
“Other countries may even use us as a showcase to see what we are doing and this would be quite beneficial to Namibia.”
The ASANRA president said that while harmonisation of the SADC region transport system had reached an advanced stage, they still needed to do more to ensure full integration amongst all the 14 member states.
“Today if you travel, you will find that the traffic and transport rules and regulations in, for example, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho [SACU states] are almost the same.
“If you look at Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique most of them have been harmonised, but of course some differences still exist especially when it comes to Angola where they still drive on the right side of the road.
“Our cross border transport system has been mostly harmonised. When you look at the vehicle standards and types, to a certain extent we have harmonised.
“If you look at the axle load in terms of the operation of the weighbridges and overload control, we have harmonised.
“The law here in Namibia is the same as in Zambia and South Africa, because otherwise you would have conflicting rules.
“You would have a situation where you weigh a truck here in Namibia crossing into Zambia carrying a load within the legal limit, but there they would consider it overloaded because you have differences in the load limit regulations.
“I think 90 percent of the traffic and transport regulations are fully harmonised as we speak. You will still have few countries like Angola and probably DRC and others where they are still behind, but generally in the SADC region we are almost on par,” he said.
Lutombi also said the time had now come for countries in the SADC region to develop human capital capacity so that they could become self-sufficient in terms of expertise.
“We rely mostly on international countries in terms of expertise. Yes it is good, but it is time we develop human capital capacity,” he noted.
To address the dearth of engineering skills in Namibia, the Roads Authority gives out annual bursaries to students who want to pursue engineering studies.
The agency also recruits engineers from other countries within the region and internationally.
However, Lutombi said hiring experts from other countries would not provide a lasting solution because it created problems in the source countries.
“This is where ASANRA is pushing to say that even if you are recycling engineers from the region it will not help if you have a minimal number of engineers.
“The only thing that will happen is that Namibia is maybe better in terms of paying them so they will all run to this country and the other countries will suffer.
“So what we want to do is to encourage member states to invest in encouraging people, especially our younger generation, to pursue careers in engineering because otherwise we cannot develop our countries.”
All the SADC region member states are members of ASANRA. A board of directors comprising of CEOs from each roads agency/authority in SADC headed by a president governs ASANRA.
The president serves a two-year term with an option to renew for a further two years.