4.0 CONCLUSION: NAMIBIAN ROAD CONSERVATION
An optimised road management system has to be designed to overcome the four "road-killing viruses":
#Virus 1: Roads have to be provided free of charge;
#Virus 2: The State is the best agency equipped to tackle road provision and conservation issues. Furthermore: Many developing countries have no road network conservation programme in place and no conservation measures are taken at the correct point of time because the "road still looks good". If the critical point is passed and the road starts to fall apart, then the authorities have no road maintenance budget in place. If the political dimension (elections etc.) is added then Virus 2 becomes even more dangerous: It develops into the "Forbidden Option". In order to please the public or to fulfil election promises road conservation contracts are negotiated in a rush. The inevitable result is a growing accumulation of semi-collapsed roads with no "Rate of Return" to the people.
The Namibian way for overcoming the two road-killing viruses and the creation of an optimised road conservation system consists of an analysed and optimised "Road User Charging System" for Namibia and the devising of one or other form of a reformed Road Authority, as established by the MWTC2000 exercise. Different options for this Road Authority were discussed above. This Road Authority should be managed by a "Namibian National Roads Board". The financing of the Road Authority has to be done through an optimised Road User Charging System (3.2) as discussed above and channelled trough a Dedicated Road Fund.
The basic secret to create an optimised road conservation system is to have a "Road Management System" for Namibian conditions in place. Such Road Management System has the following system components:
#A computerised Namibian Road Inventory;
#Definition of cost and quality (performance) optimised and appropriate Road Conservation Activities;
#A computerised Costing System;
#Scientifically based Work Scheduling System based on a performance-based system rather than a time-based system;
#A computerised Budgeting System.
Another secret of such a reformed system is to separate functions. Regulatory and policy functions should stay with the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication and all other road conservation functions should be transferred to the reformed Road Authority in order to foster structural independence, transparency and autonomy.
Whatever model is finally accepted by the MWTC2000 exercise we have to design a mechanism of checks and balances, especially in order to guard against monopolistic tendencies in the road conservation sector.