|3.0 THE NAMIBIAN WAY OF ROAD CONSERVATION
What should be the Namibian approach on road conservation? Before we can work out new strategies and tactics for an optimised road conservation management system, we should deal with the present physical state of Namibia´s road sector.
3.1 THE ROADS CATASTROPHE AHEAD: THE CASE OF NAMIBIA
Namibia's Department of Transport is in a predicament in so far that the conservation expenditure has accelerated faster than the ever rising conservation demands of the increasing road system could reasonably expect. The reasons for this disturbing situation in Namibia are the same as in many other countries: inflation, recession, low productivity, constant increase in traffic and axle loads to unforeseen levels and environmental factors like the specific Namibian climate. Additional aggravating circumstances in Namibia were caused by a situation of colonial power structures until very recently with the resulting unbalanced economical situation. All these factors have contributed to the situation where the budgetary road conservation situation simply got out of hand .
More than one half of the Namibian road system of approx. 5.200 km of paved roads has pavements which are more than 20 years of age . For the next 5 years the length of paved roads which are older than 20 years will increase with approx. 300 km/year. It has been proved over 30 years of maintenance experience on Namibia's paved road network that the optimum maintenance sequence will be an 11, 9, 7, 5 years reseal cycle. After completion of this cycle, after approx. 30 years, rehabilitation or even rebuilding of the paved road can be done. To keep this reseal sequence it would be required to reseal 600 km paved roads per year while between 1980 and 1986 only 190 km per year were in fact resealed. This tendency has aggravated even further in the 1990s. The mean cost of a reseal is in the order of US $ 20.000 per km for a 13 mm chips surfacing which represents the average value between a cheap fogspray and a full-scale premix. For an ideal maintenance tempo of 600 km/year US $ 12.000.000 will have to be budgeted for. But besides these more regular reseal requirements a road has to be rebuilt after some time. Under best circumstances it can be assumed that a road will need a complete rebuilding upgrade after 30 to 40 years of service life. With this re-building-cycle, for a current network of 5.200 km of paved roads and a current mean price of US $ 125.000 per km for a re-built road, a further US $ 5.000.000 per year is required. This total estimate of US $ 17.000.000 (N$ 65.000.000 approx.) for full paved road conservation is not fully available at the current date.
Even in Namibia, which always had boosted to possess the "best road system in Africa", the trend was towards a progressive deterioration of the paved road network during the first half of the 1990s. The state of paved roads in Namibia can be divided into four groups :
In summary, in Namibia approximately 40 % of all paved roads are falling in Group 2 or Group 3. The volume of overdue surface strengthening, rehabilitation and reconstruction works could soon become a problem of unmanageable proportions if not urgent steps - especially of funding - are taken now! At the same time there is currently no proper mechanism which could ensure adequate financing of the rehabilitation works and it seems there is no flexible and efficient organisation within the framework of the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication in place which can carry out this great job .
Therefore it can be concluded that there are two major problem areas which have to be dealt with before we are able to devise a new system for an optimised road conservation framework:
#How should road conservation be financed? (Overcoming virus 1);
# Which changes in a new Road Authority dispensation will be indispensable to the new successful road sector organisation? (Overcoming virus 2).
3.2 OVERCOMING VIRUS 1: A NEW SYSTEM OF ROAD USER CHARGING
Financing of road network conservation should be by means of a new Namibian System of Road User Charges. Such a system was designed for Namibian economic and technical conditions since Independence. With the forthcoming implementation (as from April, 1st 1996) of this new system Virus 1 can be successfully overcome. The key points of this new system will be summarised in the next section of this Position Paper .
3.2.1 KEY COMPONENTS OF THE PROPOSED ROAD CHARGING SYSTEM
An analysis of this Namibian Road User Charging System will follow in the next sections of this Position Paper.
3.2.2 PRICE FOR ROAD CONSUMPTION
It has to be clearly understood that the Namibian Road User Charging System should rather follow economic and not so much fiscal principles. The using of any rural or urban road must be regarded as a consumption of a road and the charging for this consumption should be rather regarded as a price and not as a tax. Road consumption should fall in the same category as water or electricity prices. In devising the Namibian Road User Charging System the following three major principles were observed:
3.2.3 EFFICIENT COLLECTION OF USER RATES
In order to obtain an effective and efficient Road User Charging System the system had to be designed to be non-discriminatory, simple, bold, equitable and transparent. Basically this means that the most efficient way of charging road users is to include rates into the fuel price  and to ask license fees. The charging mechanism of fuel levies should be used for road conservation and the license fees for fixed and capital road costs. Capital road costs can also be regarded as "long term marginal costs". Thus there exists an overlapping "grey area" between fuel levies and license fees which allows a measure of flexibility between the two charging instruments.
Tolls are much less efficient. Direct charging by a private company might not be well received by the road users. Many research efforts have proved that charging tolls are only feasible on roads with an average traffic volume of more than 2 000 vehicle units per day. There are very few roads in Namibia which reach these traffic loads. With less traffic, the revenue is too low to justify the high fixed and administrative costs of a toll road system. In some cases the revenues collected were less than the toll collecting costs. The system is also open to various forms of corruption. It is desirable that a toll road always requires a parallel running "free" road. This is not viable under Namibian infrastructural and traffic circumstances. Therefore it was decided not to consider such a system for Namibia.
3.2.4 CORRECT ROAD USER PRICING
For more than five years the Namibian Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication has done research on the topic of correct and efficient road user charging. It would be too pretentious to review the whole path of engineering analysis we have followed but we developed a road user charging system which is based on engineering arguments and not on guesswork. The system resulted in a concept of marginal cost pricing (the damage inflicted by various vehicle categories and axle loads on different road pavements) via the fuel levy and of fixed cost pricing via vehicle license fees. Additionally there must be made provision in the system for the extra charging of heavy vehicles. But, it should also be fully understood that the balance point between marginal costs and fixed costs should not be too rigid because as it was stated above, capital road costs can also be regarded as "long term marginal costs". Thus there exists an overlapping "grey area" between fuel levies and license fees which allows a measure of flexibility between the two charging instruments.
In summary the Namibian Road User Charging System entails the following pricing components:
Many options do exist how to balance the traffic-related costs and the non-traffic related costs in the New Road User Charging System. There is a cost responsibility for different vehicle categories (depending on different axle loads) for different pavement types and different traffic loads which had to be devised into the Namibian Road User Charging System. This led to different road conservation cost levels for different pavements and different traffic loads (economy of scale).
18.104.22.168 WHAT HAS TO BE PRICED BY ROAD USER CHARGES
The central question here is what exactly is the road user charge meant to finance? It was already spelled out that the Namibian Road User Charging System makes provision to finance the traffic-related costs by fuel levies and weight-distance/transit fees and the non-traffic related costs by license fees. Furthermore it is intended that the whole proclaimed Namibian road network has to be included into the system, even if this means that a certain degree of cross-subsidisation between highly-trafficked paved roads and low-volume unpaved roads in rural areas is taking place.  The "non-cross- subsidisation principle" cannot be fully applied, out of practical necessity (to make the system simple: prices have to be averaged) under Namibian conditions. We should therefore not differentiate between " viable" and "non-viable" roads ( non-viable roads could be roads with a traffic load of less than 50 vehicle units per day, depending on road materials, climate, pavement types etc.).
22.214.171.124 THE COST LEVEL FOR ROAD USER CHARGING
The spending level for the conservation of a road network and the provision of new roads is a function of the in-depth knowledge of the entire road system characteristics and optimised, appropriate conservation levels for different pavements. This concept is based on a good, computerised road inventory and optimised "Road Management Systems" for both: paved and unpaved roads which will be dealt with in section 126.96.36.199 of this Position Paper.
As a rule of thumb it can be assumed that approximately 2,5 to 3,5 % of the total replacement value is annually required for the conservation of a road network. For Namibian conditions this would amount to approximately N$ 200 million per year. If the spending level is calculated via an idealised, balanced road budget for road conservation ( traffic-related and non-traffic related costs) and capital costs, the figure rises to N$ 225 million. Another important input variable is the calculation of the approximate quantity of fuel consumed over the entire road network. All these different cost variables were balanced in order to achieve an optimised cost level for the Namibian Road User Charging System .
But, it must be emphasised that in the past heavy vehicles have not paid their fair share for road conservation and were cross-subsidised by other road user categories.
188.8.131.52 CHARGES FOR LIGHT AND HEAVY VEHICLES
All vehicles are causing a certain amount of damage to the roads they use. The whole system of the Namibian Road User Charging System for the conservation of the road network is designed to compensate for the marginal damage caused by vehicles to road pavements. The marginal damage caused also bears a clear relationship to the mass of vehicles. Under normal circumstances, heavy vehicles, together with the effects of penetrating water into the layerworks of a road, are the principal causes for road deteriorations. Basically heavy vehicles are causing much more damage to pavement layers through the deformation of the layers than light vehicles. Therefore, the Namibian system was devised on the principle that it would not be fair to charge all road users a uniform rate.
The new system makes therefore provision for an additional charging instrument in addition to fuel levies and license fees: the weight-distance charge for heavy vehicles. Without such an additional charging instrument it is not possible to equitably charge different vehicle categories because the damage inflicted on road pavements is increasing much more steeply  with its mass (weight) than its fuel consumption.
184.108.40.206 TRANSPARENCY OF USER CHARGES
In order to have a transparent Road User Charging System the composition of the fuel price should be designed that fuel levies as road user charges are clearly differentiated from fiscal fuel taxes which the Minister of Finance might charge.
3.2.5 OPTIMISED ROAD CONSERVATION LEVELS
220.127.116.11 RURAL ROADS
An existing road is considered economically viable when the costs of conservation are smaller than the combined user savings resulting from travelling over a road with a good riding quality in comparison with a road with a weak riding quality. On this basis the optimal points of (1) grading an earth or gravel road, (2) of gravelling an earth road or (3) paving an unpaved road can be found and should be incorporated into the optimised road conservation system.
Cost and quality optimised road models compare the future flow of benefits of a facility with the initial cost of construction as a basis. Therefore it is necessary to consider the time value of money. This is done by discounting the future costs and benefits to a present value (Present Worth 'PW' of the Costs and the Present Worth of the Future Benefits) by using the discount rate or the opportunity cost of capital (OCC). For investments OCC is assumed to be an average of the short-term and long-term rates of interests. When the effect of public investment in highways is considered, the interest rate must reflect the return on investment in the national economy. Such cost/quality optimised models are assisting the establishment of the Net Present Worth (NPW) for gravel-surfacing and bitumen-surfacing of roads which are based on real cost-optimised justifications and not on guess-work. The NPW of a given investment is obtained by subtracting the present worth of the costs from the present worth of the future benefits. The benefits as well as the costs are discounted at the OCC interest rate. The investment or the conservation measure is feasible if the NPW is positive. On the basis of this cost and quality optimising philosophy the optimised conservation levels have to be developed .
It has again to be emphasised that road conservation is one of the activities to pay for itself with the clear understanding "who is paying for it" and "why".
18.104.22.168 URBAN STREETS
Except arterial through roads which should be regarded as rural thoroughfares, the provision of urban streets should be financed by municipal taxes and not by vehicle license fees. Marginal costs for the conservation of urban streets is fully incorporated into the Namibian Road User Charging System and is covered through fuel levies. But, some specific urban conservation activities like parking places should be financed from other funds.
22.214.171.124 SOURCES OF FINANCING ROAD NETWORKS
The conservation and provision of road networks should be financed from road user charges and via a Dedicated Road Fund. Bank loans to fully or partially finance road conservation should be seriously questioned. When considering the using of bank loans for totally or partially financing road conservation we have to differ between current variable (marginal) costs ( traffic related variable costs and traffic related fixed costs) and capital (investment) costs.
If the funding is not sufficient the following could be the causes:
The Namibian Road User Charging System is making provision to avoid above problems but other problem areas have to be addressed in the next sections of this Position Paper.
If "soft" loans are considered it has also to be differentiated whether institutional reform to upgrade road management is absent or implemented. In the absence of institutional reform "soft" loans may have the following advantages :
On the other hand, negotiating " soft" loans as the normal way of financing road conservation has the following disadvantages:
If, one the other hand institutional change is implemented, then "soft" loans can be especially usefully applied in the following cases:
But, it has to be observed that continually resorting to "soft" loans for road conservation is tantamount to transferring the costs of bad management to future generations well knowing that the new generations will in all possibility not receive the full benefits of these loans. All these points had to be observed in designing an optimised Namibian Road User Charging System and the implementation of institutional change in order to optimise road management.
3.2.6 CONCLUSION TO NAMIBIAN ROAD USER CHARGING SYSTEM
In the previous sections of this Position Paper it was outlined that Virus 1 can only be overcome by an efficient and equitable Namibian Road User Charging System on the principle of the full cost recovery for all road-related costs on the basis of the " User-Pay Rationale". This system will lead to Financial Autonomy.
It was repeatedly outlined that an optimised road conservation and provision system can only be safeguarded by an efficient road management system. It was also summarised that an optimised Road User Charging System can only efficiently work when the problem of efficiency in the road management is solved simultaneously. Otherwise, if the degree of inefficiency is kept at the present level or even increases, imposing a Road User Charging System would mean a penalty for the road users. Simply, changing the form of financing, that is replacing general tax revenues with a road user charge, is neither a solution in itself nor an incentive for better efficiency in road management. Therefore, the next sections of this paper will concentrate on the optimised management of road networks in Namibia.
3.3 THE MANAGEMENT OF ROAD NETWORKS IN NAMIBIA
3.3.1 PRESENT ROAD INSTITUTIONS
Road institutions in most developing and even developed countries are normally not autonomous. In many cases road agencies have the following major administrative features:
The current institutions in most countries are not necessarily ineffective but grossly inefficient. This is also the case with the Roads Directorate within the Department of Transport of the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication in Namibia.
126.96.36.199 BASIC CAUSES OF INEFFICIENCY IN NAMIBIA
The basic cause for inefficiency of road management within the Namibian Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication can at best be described by identifying the motives absent in the ministerial environment :
There is no fear, as is the case in private companies, of losing an investment made. The employees of the Department of Transport do not own the roads of the country nor is their income generated through the returns on capital invested in roads. A employee's well being is not threatened by inefficient management of the Namibian road network. Given the relatively low level of salaries of technicians and engineers, there is little material or financial incentive for the improvement of performances. In contrast to the low salaries paid to technicians and engineers in the government sector, government employed workers and labourers, however, are paid substantially more than in the private sector. In addition, senior officials in the public services are not very demanding with their subordinates, for a whole range of reasons which will be outlined below, and, given the job security, the latter are not afraid of losing their jobs or incomes. In many instances workers tend to sidetrack management. The lack of production incentives coupled with appropriate remuneration packages is a major problem But there are other constraints like rules and regulations of the "Public Service Commission", the "Ministry of Finance" and the "Namibian Tender Board" to be mentioned as well. All these constraints are difficult to address in a public sector environment whereas the lack of qualified staff could still be remedied in theory.
The reasons for this situation must be seen within the framework of the understandable and justifiable Government objectives :
The following mechanism is used in order to achieve these objectives:
The result of this mechanism is the following:
The drain of skilled professional engineering and technical as well as managerial staff results in increased inefficiency and low productivity.
Inefficiency in the road management sector is therefore inter alia caused by a lack of technical managerial personnel to take responsibility for the proper management of the Namibian road network and the costing system in the various regional and district offices. The management and costing system is based on only two key factors: conscientious production management as well as monitoring and accounting procedures. This means that increased efforts must be made to create an environment within the framework of the Department of Transport in which proper accountability for the expenditure of funds and for results achieved with the funds can be maintained. The specific problem areas which were identified within the Namibian Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication: Department of Transport will be outlined in the next sections of this Position Paper.
188.8.131.52.1 MANAGERIAL CONSTRAINTS
The Department of Transport of the Namibian Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication still has a strong and dedicated top management, but a crisis exists at middle and lower management levels. The result is that top managers have to perform duties which are the responsibility of the middle management. Furthermore, many of the technical top management team lack proper administrative and secretarial support and are consequently pre-occupied with administrative work.
184.108.40.206.2 DISCIPLINE AND COMMITMENT
The most serious problem facing efficient road management issues is the lack of commitment and discipline on side of many of the Ministry´s employees up to the lower management cadres. It can be concluded that there is still a substantial support for the top and middle management of the Department of Transport, but this is in danger of being quickly lost unless discipline and a sense of commitment is not enforced fairly but firmly. This danger entails that the former extent of voluntary cooperation has shrunk noticeably. Especially it has to be emphasised that the Department of Transport should have the power to act firmly against certain obnoxious employees, also as far as the evil of absenteeism  is concerned. Fair but firm disciplinary measures must be upheld if commitment and accountability are to be improved.
220.127.116.11.3 LACK OF AUTHORITY
In the face of serious problems regarding insufficient discipline and commitment and by virtue of the fact of being given the responsibility for achieving certain quality and productivity objectives, the top and middle class managers of the Department of Transport should be afforded the necessary authority to enable them to achieve these objectives. Many of the management constraints have to be attributed to the fact that, especially middle management cadres are not able to enforce discipline and accountability among their subordinates. The management cadres in the Ministry are severely hampered in this respect by having to obtain approval - often accompanied by tremendous bureaucratic delays and from the highest levels of State - for actions which are critical to successful management of road conservation.
There is also a serious need to make staff in the Department of Transport aware of the necessity to account for the way in which public monies entrusted to them are being spent and what is being achieved for it.
Concerted efforts by the Department of Transport's top management have uncovered numerous examples of failure to properly check plant and vehicles returns and invoices for correctness. Some of these are:
Above problems should already have been intercepted at middle management level. The need for extensive control at the Head Office of the Department of Transport is now placing an unacceptable additional burden on the top management level.
18.104.22.168.5 WEAK FINANCIAL AND MANAGEMENT SKILLS
The remuneration of middle class managers like roads superintendents is inappropriately rated. This makes it very difficult to attract personnel to these posts with the necessary qualifications for the responsibilities expected of them, particularly regarding financial skills. The result is that many inexperienced and untrained middle class managers do not have the necessary expertise to be able to use a road conservation costing system for enhancing efficient road management. In the contrary, due to the shortage of clerical staff in the district and regional offices middle class managers are additionally burdened with administrative field work unrelated to their technical managerial function. The gravity of this situation becomes apparent if one considers that each district office is entrusted with the efficient spending of public funds in the order of millions of Namibia Dollar. These offices are also inadequately staffed with engineers to exercise efficient technical, managerial and financial control.
22.214.171.124.6 DEFICIENT SUPERVISION OF FIELD UNITS
The problems sketched above are all adding to the poor work performance of road conservation field units. There is not only the general lack of discipline and commitment but also a general shortcoming in the technical, managerial and financial supervision of many of the field units of the Department of Transport. The deficient supervision can mainly be attributed to above mentioned problem areas and applies particularly to "single-operator units" such as "Bitumen Maintenance Units" for the routine conservation of paved roads  and "Grader Units" for the conservation of unpaved roads. Especially the "Bitumen Maintenance Units" are not giving the required standard of quality and the expected output of production any more.
The "single-operator units" are mostly left to their own devices with highly unsatisfactory control over their work programme, work achievement and plant reporting and costing. Judging by the poor quality, and often non-submission of plant returns most operators seem to be largely incapable of performing this task or are even unwilling due to a lack of discipline and commitment. This problem is aggravated by an apparently increasing portion of totally or partially illiterate operators.
126.96.36.199.7 EQUIPMENT-RELATED PROBLEMS
In part, problems with the production reporting by "single-operator units" must be attributed to the very common problem of defective engine hour meters and odometers. Also, motor graders have no electronic or mechanical devices to record driver hours which makes it virtually impossible for grader units to properly report production. Another grave problem is the persisting " equipment unserviceability" problem with the resulting long standing times of equipment and the excessive unproductive works output.
Based on work sampling at 20 units, including "single operator units" like Grader Units, Bitumen Maintenance Units and Light Maintenance Units the following observations were made :
188.8.131.52 CONCLUSION: BASIC CAUSES OF INEFFICIENCY
After having analysed all these problems it can also be concluded that the above sketched scenarios cannot be overcome under a " public service environment". A new package of efficiency improvements in the road management sector has to be designed to overcome the problems which were represented. The consequence of the reorganisation of the Namibian road sector will be an in-depth institutional change of the Department of Transport as far as road conservation and provision is concerned. But, it has also to be observed that no miracles can be expected by a process of Institutional Reform because the same pool of manpower has to do the job.
3.3.2 REORGANISATION OF THE NAMIBIAN ROAD SECTOR
The reorganisation of the Namibian road sector consists mainly of the redistribution of the three fundamental tasks related to roads:
184.108.40.206 MANAGEMENT OF THE NAMIBIAN ROAD NETWORK
The management of a road network is a planning, optimising and prioritising task in an engineering sense with relation to technical standards and to economics (costs). The following parameters have to be observed:
#Prioritising of physical road works;
#What types of works are required at the prioritised locations and how should the work be executed;
#The time frame of the physical works.
The success and failure of road network management is measured against target parameters. They are normally related to the desired condition of the network. The management tasks can be listed as follows :
#The planning which consists of identifying and programming physical works;
#The execution and supervision of physical works with relevant quality and production controls;
#The constant evaluation of the results of the management system, in order to adapt methods and techniques to changing needs and to learn from errors made.
It must be emphasised that road network management is a highly specialised engineering activity that requires highly trained professionals.
For any informed decision on policies or activities related with the management of roads two elements of information are necessary:
#An inventory of the roads in a network, including their basic engineering parameters, especially their materials specifications. This may be a computerised list of roads between specific nodes with an emphasis on technically homogenous road sections;
#A description of the present condition of each road or road section, determined through visual-sensitive methods to evaluate the whole network.
This information is the basic input to calculate the value of the Namibian road system. The following steps are used to analyse the road asset value:
#Step 1: Identification of the types of roads existing in the country;
#Step 2: Analysis of the construction costs for each type of road;
# Step 3: Analysis of resurfacing, rehabilitation and reconstruction costs for each type of road;
#Step 4: Preparation of the computerised databank;
# Step 5: Data input into the databank;
#Step 6: Interpretation of the results;
#Step 7: Publication of the results and their interpretation in order to create optimised priorities.
When the road system of a country is in a bad shape it is obvious that the road management system is deficient. Under such circumstances, the road network asset value analysis shows a result which is below the minimum permissible value. The question arises what should be the optimised asset value of a road network? It is clear from the outset that an optimised road asset value cannot mean that all road sections have to be simultaneously in a very good condition. This would not only be unrealistic in reality but would also mean an uneconomic waste of public funds because road conservation would be done sooner than in actual fact required. The optimised point of time for road conservation measures should be calculated on the basis of a total road asset value balanced somewhere in the region of the mid-point benchmark between the maximum theoretical value and the minimum permissible value. On the basis of the mid-point benchmark the Namibian Road Management System should be designed.
Further arguments for a Namibian Road Management System are the following:
#Performing road conservation on condition-based rather than time-based road conservation;
#Implementing preventative rather than corrective road conservation;
#Conducting road conservation work on a programmed basis;
#The Road Management System has to go hand in hand with optimised institutional reform as outlined below;
#Compatibility has to be existent between the Road Management System, the Traffic Counting System, financial accounting system, stores, plant register and the costing system.
Building on these basic input data and their analysis the Namibian Road Management System was developed for paved and unpaved roads.
220.127.116.11.1 PAVED ROADS
In order to overcome the road management problems the importance of cost-efficient road conservation has to be emphasised. With adequate road conservation the road pavement life can be maximised, and the vehicle operating costs can be minimised. Independent Namibia has to learn from negative lessons in other African countries where road conservation has been in many cases grossly neglected or given a low priority with the result of continuously deteriorating road networks. The basis for optimised road conservation for paved roads will be a Road Pavement Management System (PMS) which must contain the following data and decision-influencing facts :
#Establishing priorities for conservation including rehabilitation and reconstruction in selected areas, based on criteria set by the management of the Department of Transport;
#Obtaining feedback relative to pavement performance for input into pavement design, construction and road conservation activities;
#Applying life-cycle cost analysis when reviewing alternatives;
#Considering major design parameters like foundation strength, number of projected E80 axle loads, materials specifications, climate and others.
The Namibian "PMS"- system for paved roads is basically in place with a backlog in data capturing due to a serious shortage of professional and technical staff.
18.104.22.168.1 UNPAVED ROADS
It must to be outlined that gravel and earth roads still play an overwhelming transport role not only in Namibia but in the whole developing world, but somehow research on these roads is very neglected. Namibia has maybe the best appropriate roads network in Africa and is regarded as a world leader in the construction and maintenance of gravel and earth roads. The cost and quality optimised research on gravel and earth roads has to be systematised and deepened. The following research topics are currently under discussion:
A current joint-research project between the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication of Namibia, the University of Namibia and the "Technische Universität Berlin" comprises of a quality and cost-optimised maintenance and upgrading system for appropriate roads in developing countries with a special emphasis on gravel and earth roads. This research programme is a healthy basis for a sound road conservation system for unpaved roads: Namibia has to learn from negative lessons in other African countries and can make her experience, based on the research project, available to other developing countries in Africa.
The major objectives of such a research scheme can be outlined as follows:
The basic parameters of the proposed research project can be summarised as follows:
V. Optimal points of grading (Figure 1), gravelling and bituminous surfacings (Figure2).
FIGURE 1 OPTIMAL POINT OF GRADING OF UNPAVED ROADS 
FIGURE 2 OPTIMAL POINT OF SURFACING UNPAVED ROADS 
NOTE: PAVED: NEW =
The implementation of an "Unsealed Road Management System (URMS)" with prioritisation of re-gravelling projects as first step entails as a "first sieve" a "Road Condition Survey (RCS)" which consists of a riding quality and a maintainability survey combined with traffic data from the traffic data base to establish optimised re-gravelling candidates. The maintainability condition is more permanent than a riding quality condition and a realistic assessment thereof will pose some problems.
Maintainability is a composite property which is related to the measure of success with which a road can be conserved through normal blading by a grader. Most important are the general quality and thickness of the surfacing material and its suitability for being conserved by a grader, the road shape and riding surface drainage. Problem areas are riding surfaces consisting of very coarse, non-cohesive materials which cannot be conserved properly because any blading effort is soon destroyed by traffic actions, further rocky outcrops and large stones and lastly deep sandy roads beneath the natural surface which are virtually non-maintainable by blading.
22.214.171.124 EXECUTION OF ROAD CONSERVATION WORKS
The physical execution of road conservation works is controlled through the road network management system. There is not very much room for decision making because the road works have to be executed in accordance with stringent technical specifications. Part of the decision making process is to strike a balance between the private sector and the State. Another component in the decision making process is the use of labour-based construction and conservation techniques.
126.96.36.199 SAFEGUARDING OF PUBLIC FUNCTIONS
One of the fundamental tasks of the State is to safeguard the public interests. Public interests in the existing road network can be summed up as follows :
Some of the public functions, like law making, policy devising, the formulation of regulations and the safeguarding of public safety should be the function of the State. Other functions should be the responsibility of the private sector.
As for the modified road network, public interests can be summed up as follows :
Basically it can be concluded from the foregoing that the State has to limit its size and direct influence to those areas where its presence is indispensable. The State should not deliver services which the private sector can deliver more efficiently. The State should minimise areas like the provision of services and goods or the regulation of their prices.
The consequence of this postulate is the institutional reform of the Namibian Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication ( MWTC2000) with the in-depth analysis to reform divisions like the Government Garage, the Heavy Plant Division, Airports, Aviation Services and the Directorate of Roads (provision and conservation of roads). At the beginning of this Position Paper it was stated that road consumption should be regarded as a price which has to be paid fully by the different user categories. Road management should thus not be part of a "state subsidised sector" but rather a self-financing sector. To achieve this objective it was necessary to obtain greater public participation in government decision-making by creating an organisational framework and the necessary mechanisms to bring forward the ideas and opinions of the road user public and the road user industry by the statutory Transport Advisory Board. Once the institutional reform of "MWTC2000" has been concluded the Government assumes the role of a "catalytic agent" in the transport sector.
The effectiveness and efficiency of a system is the result of a set of very specific conditions. What are the specific conditions for effective and efficient Road Network Management? What type of environment is conducive to effectiveness and efficiency? How can public interest be defended and respected in a Road Network Management? The next sections of this Position Paper will answer these questions .
3.3.3 A SUITABLE ENVIRONMENT FOR ROAD MANAGEMENT
What type of characteristics and attitudes should prevail in a future Road Network Management? In the above section it was established that the Government and the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication is ill-equipped to fulfil the role of effective and efficient Road Network Management with the result of a deteriorating road network in Namibia. This " ministerial way of doing things" is simply not working.
Namibia has initiated the creation of a new " Road Authority" to implement the future optimised Road Network Management. This establishment will be realised within the framework of the new "MWTC2000"-concept. A transitional period of 5 years has been envisaged. In order to meet the objectives of effectivity and efficiency the future Road Network Management System has to meet the following targets which will be dealt with in the next sections of this Position Paper.
188.8.131.52 POLITICAL INFLUENCES ON ROAD MANAGEMENT
The future Road Network Management System will be ruled by professional arguments. Political criteria will only be taken into consideration when designing the general objectives of the new system and the establishing of the legal framework. Once the system is operational the political influences of the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication will be limited to a general responsibility for the effective and efficient functioning of the system and for eventual modifications in response to changing needs. Road Network Management will not be subject to short-term political influences, especially with respect to the following parameters:
# The optimised road conservation programme.
184.108.40.206 ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY
Accountability has the following main objectives: All road provision and road conservation projects have to be cost and quality optimised based on above guidelines. The following criteria have to be met:
Accountability is only possible in a transparent environment and transparency is based on a well defined and applied Road Management Information System ( Pavement Management System (PMS)) for paved roads and Unsealed Road Management System (URMS) for unpaved roads.
220.127.116.11 INCENTIVES AND SANCTIONS
An effective and efficient Road Network Management System is only possible through good professional and technical performance by the human resources used in the new system. We have established earlier that this is not possible under ministerial " public service conditions". The following incentives and sanctions have to be applied by the new system:
18.104.22.168 COOPERATION BETWEEN PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTOR
A redistribution of responsibilities between the different players in the new Road Network Management System is required. This will result in a revised public-private partnership. These changes will affect the following bodies in the public and private sector:
#Various divisions in the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication like the Heavy Plant Division (to be reformed by institutional change); the Government Garage (to be reformed by institutional change); the Road Authority to execute Road Network Management (newly to be established), the various policy formulating, planning and legal bodies in the Ministry (to remain in the Ministry);
#The statutory National Roads Board (to be created) to supervise, regulate, standardise and prioritise the activities of the Road Authority;
#Various private Road Management Companies (to be established);
#Civil engineering construction companies (existing);
#Contractors specialising in road conservation (to be established);
#Investor groups (existing).
The well-functioning of the "new order" Road Authority will depend on the high degree of cooperation and communication between the different players in the road network management field.
22.214.171.124 RISKS INVOLVED IN THE NEW ORDER
The following risks have to be identified and minimised in the design of the "new order" Road Network Management System:
Various protection mechanisms have to be designed in order to avoid and minimise above risk areas in the technical and legal framework of the new Road Network Management System.
3.3.4 ALTERNATIVES FOR NEW ORDER ROAD AUTHORITY ( MWTC2000)
The following alternatives for a "new order" Road Network Management System have to be investigated in depth for the Namibian "MWTC2000" solution:
#Privatisation of Road Infrastructure (Model 7)
126.96.36.199 NATIONAL ROAD MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY
The main characteristic of Model 1, a National Road Management Authority is to manage the road network and to execute all physical works related to road conservation and road provision. These functions are transferred from the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication by a newly established " National Road Management Authority Act" to the new Roads Authority. The Roads Authority also has to take the responsibility of the safeguarding of public interests and some of the public functions. The "National Road Management Authority Act" has to make provision to minimise the effects of a natural monopoly and to guard against the maximising of profits. The state-owned National Road Management Authority has to carry out all physical road works with some own work forces  and equipment or contract it out to private companies. The authority should be designed on the lines of the " Namibia Ports Authority".
Strict delineation of business activities from those belonging to the State is one of the most important parameters of this model. Supervisory and prioritising functions of the Roads Authority can be entrusted to a statutory " National Roads Board" which should act independently from the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication. The Roads Authority alternative does not imply increased decentralisation. But it can be very suitable for a country like Namibia with a huge road infrastructure for a relatively small population. It allows a certain degree of privatisation because of greater flexibility in contracting certain road conservation and provision tasks to the private sector. The legislation should ensure to protect the Roads Authority from the pressures of short-term policies. This model will have the following advantages and disadvantages :
#A state-owned National Road Management Authority would form a "natural monopoly"  which has not to compete against anyone, thus the effectivity and efficiency deficiency problems in the "public sector" might not be satisfactorily solved;
# Undue political influences by political forces and lobby groups to pressurise the Roads Authority cannot be excluded. Therefore, in order to minimise political influences, the supervising "Namibian National Road Board" should be autonomous and should represent the Road Users fairly.
188.8.131.52 NATIONAL ROAD MANAGEMENT CORPORATION
Model 2, a National Road Management Corporation is legally and technically structured very similar to that of the National Road Management Authority except for the fact that a state-owned corporation cannot by law fulfil any public functions like an authority. The relationship between the State and the state-owned corporation should be strictly on financial terms. In the case of a corporation it will not be possible by legislation to minimise the effects of a natural monopoly and to guard against the maximising of profits. Any non-commercial demands like strategic or social considerations can be regulated by a Performance Contract or should be paid by the State as Public Service Obligation (PSO). An example to a corporation could be " Telecom Namibia Limited".
The strict delineation of business activities from those belonging to the State is for the corporation model even more pronounced than for the authority model. The safeguarding of public functions should remain in the hands of the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication or partly designated to the statutory " Namibian National Roads Board".
184.108.40.206 ROAD MANAGEMENT CONTRACTS (FIXED TERM)
The main characteristics of Model 3, a Road Management Company (Fixed Terms) is that by means of Road Management Contracts, the State transfers the responsibility for road management and the physical conservation works to one or other private company by a system of public bidding (asking public tenders by the Namibian Tender Board). Physical works can be executed either directly by the Road Management Company and/or subcontracted to other relevant construction or management companies.
The duration of the contract period should be limited and clearly defined in the contract document but should preferably not be less than ten to fifteen years. At termination of the contract all contract responsibilities return to the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication who can ask for new tenders for a renewed road management contract. The Ministry keeps at all times the responsibility to safeguard the public interests in the road system and other related public functions. Payments to the Road Management Companies should be done through a Dedicated Road Fund through established mechanisms. The control and supervision of the Road Management Companies can be established through a "National Roads Board". This model will have the following advantages and disadvantages :
220.127.116.11 ROAD MANAGEMENT CONTRACTS (INDEFINITE)
Model 4, a Road Management Company (Indefinite) is similar to that discussed above but has no time limitation. The Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication asks tenders for the entire road network or sections of it by a system of public bidding. The consequence of this model is a straight privatisation of the Namibian road network as far as the conservation of the system is concerned whereby it has to be observed that the privatised entities have to be competitive. The tender price for this alternative might be higher than for alternative 18.104.22.168 but in any case lower than the replacement costs of the road system or parts of it. This model would mean a significant revenue for the Namibian State Revenue Fund. As in the other models, the Government remains responsible for the safeguarding of public interests in roads and other related public functions which will be still administered through the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication. If the owners of the Road Management Company or Companies are in breach of contract in a serious way by not fulfilling their obligations, the contract might be cancelled without compensation. The contract will normally maintain its financial market value as long as the road network remains in an optimised fashion in accordance with the contractual stipulations.
The control and supervision of the Road Management Companies can be established through a "National Namibian Roads Board". This model will have the following advantages and disadvantages :
#All the advantages of models 1 to 3, and also:
#Introduces a strong incentive to the owners of the company or companies to keep the road system in a permanent optimal condition;
#Avoids last minute "cosmetic" works due to the permanent character of the contract;
#This model generates considerable revenue to the Government;
#Provides attractive, safe and long-term Namibian capital investment opportunities suitable for institutional investors such as pension funds, life insurance companies etc.;
#May eventually open an avenue to participate the people as share holders in such a public utility company.
# Given that Model 4 contracts will be rather sold at considerable high prices, this Model can only realised in countries with a functioning capital market or with access to foreign capital markets. This should be no problem under Namibian circumstances and is therefore a realistic alternative for Namibia.
22.214.171.124 TEMPORARY CONCESSIONS
Model 5 provides for temporary concessions. A temporary concession is a variation on Model 3 ( Road Management Company (Fixed Terms)), whose specific characteristics is that the concessionaire directly charges road user charges by means of tolls. It was already analysed earlier in this Position Paper that tolls are not suitable for Namibian conditions. It was established that direct charging by a private company may not be well received by road users, that the charging mechanism for tolls is expensive and not an efficient charging system and open to corruption and toll alternatives cannot be a solution for roads with medium to low traffic numbers, roads which form the overwhelming majority of roads in Namibia. Therefore Model 5 is not appropriate for Namibian conditions.
126.96.36.199 PERMANENT CONCESSIONS
Model 6 provides for permanent concessions. This alternative is similar to Model 5, with the difference that no time limit is placed on the concessions. Therefore it can be concluded that Model 6 is also not appropriate for Namibian conditions.
188.8.131.52 PRIVATISATION OF ROAD INFRASTRUCTURE
Model 7 entails the sale of the total or part road network of Namibia by public tender. The sold road network becomes the property of the successful bidder with all the resulting technical, economic and legal consequences. Sales transactions have to be subject to conditions to keep roads permanently open in an appropriate and optimal conservation fashion and the guarantee that user rates are set according to clearly defined formulas and mechanisms.
This model option could be used in cases where alternative routes are available which is normally never the case in Namibia. Therefore it has to be doubted whether Model 7 is a feasible alternative for Namibia.
3.3.5 FIRST STEPS IN IMPLEMENTING INSTITUTIONAL REFORM
Within the framework of analysis for MWTC2000 and in anticipation of Institutional Reform to create a new Roads Conservation Body the following actions were initiated during 1995/96:
The first experiences with commercialisation and privatisation of road conservation activities within the framework of MWTC2000 are encouraging and are proving the cost-effectiveness and increased efficiency brought in by Institutional Reform.