The wind of change is sweeping across the airports company and corruption is being exposed all over.
Namibia Airports Company has temporarily ousted its chief executive officer Tamer El-Kallawi and Courage Silombela who is in charge of the company’s engineering and IT affairs in a move the board said is necessary to make room to investigate transgressions allegedly committed by the pair.
The Patriot has obtained documents showing that the duo are under investigation for bribery, fraud, falsification or altering of documents, failure to obey the NAC rules and regulations, causing loss or damage to NAC through disregard of its rules and regulations and gross negligence.
“The Board of the NAC has received information contained in a preliminary report issued by Deloitte which constitutes reasonable grounds that the abovementioned individuals may have committed serious transgressions in their capacities as senior employees of the NAC. The preliminary report is based on Deloitte’s review of evidence in the possession of the Anti-Corruption Commission of Namibia,” said theboard in a letter dated 19 June 2017 in which it sought permission from works and transport minister Alpheus !Naruseb to suspend the two.
The Patriot has learnt that the suspended duo were allegedly involved in sanctioning the awarding of a N$156 million tender to IBB Military Equipment and Accessories Supplies CC.
As per the tender specifications, the company was supposed to supply, deliver, install and commission airport security equipment, hold baggage and carry-on baggage scanners, metal detectors and provision of after service sales for a two-year periods for airports in Namibia plus a further contract for the supply of additional explosive detection, plus a three-year maintenance contract and supply of large cargo scanners.
NAC currently owns and manages eight airports in Namibia.
El-Kallawi in the past stated that the decision to award the tender to IBB Military Equipment and Accessories Supplies CC was taken by the Board and is therefore a decision by the Company. According to sources close to the investigation the previous board took the decision to award the tender five days before their term ended.
The scanners were allegedly awarded without following the prescribed tendering regulations and the same goes for the second phase of Ondangwa Airport that was awarded to a Chinese company for N$ 235 million.
They also stand accused of being involved in the awarding of a tender for the supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of an integrated security management system at Hosea Kutako International Airport and Eros Airports respectively.
A NAC source informed this reporter that the board wants to terminate these agreements due to financial constraints as well as the manner in which they were awarded.
In the letter to !Naruseb, Kauta said a Deloitte forensic investigation is currently underway and the final investigation report will be available next month.
“The preliminary findings in the Deloitte progress report are based on the evidence collated by the ACC during the course of its investigations. The ACC has investigative powers, such as to subpoena witnesses, conduct searches and seizures, and has therefore been able to conduct its investigations unhindered,” said Kauta.
“The NAC, on the other hand, does not have the benefit of such investigative powers and must rely on the willingness and goodwill of witnesses to come forward. We have now reached the stage where the NAC with the assistance of Deloitte wishes to supplement the ACC investigation with a limited number of internal investigative procedures, such as conducting interviews with some current and NAC employees. We have therefore reached the stage at which the suspension of the implicated employees become pertinent,” said Kauta.
Sources have also indicated that plans are underway to probe the previous board members to determine whether they played any role in the awarding of tenders in an unprocedural fashion.
“It is envisaged that the final investigation report should be available within three weeks from the date of suspension. Should the final investigation report contain evidence that there is a prima facie case against one or both of the accused employees, the Board will take immediate action to issue charge sheets and notices of disciplinary hearings to the accused employees,” said Kauta.
There are talks that the ACC probe was forwarded to the Office of the Prosecutor General, however, the graft body’s spokesman Albert Mbanga said the investigations are still ongoing.
On 24 February 2014 the board of directors of the Namibia Airports Company resolved to award the tender to IBB Military Equipment and Accessories Supplies CC. 19 companies submitted their bids for the multimillion dollar tender.
Aggrieved by the fact that the tender was awarded to IBB military Equipment and Accessories Supplies CC, one of the bidders, Fire Tech Systems CC, took the matter to court on 27 November 2014, for the court to review and set aside the award of the tender to IBB military Equipment and Accessories Supplies CC.
NAC apposed the application saying Fire Tech Systems CC allegedly delayed in instituting the review proceedings and that the it unnecessarily cited the Chairperson of the Namibia Airports Company’s Tender and Technical Committee and the Namibia Airports Company itself.
The court at the time dismissed the application, but no order as to costs was made and further judged that the award of Tender No. NAC/OPS/35/2013 for the supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of hold baggage, carry-on baggage scanners, metal detectors to IBB was unlawful and irregular, but it was not set aside.
The relationship between El-Kallawi and the board has been frosty since the two paths converged last year.
The suspended CEO and the board have been at loggerheads over budget issues which has pitted the board against the company’s management.
Heated email exchanges, seen by this publication, between Kauta and El-Kallawi in April showed that the board refused to approve the proposed operational budget.
The Board Chairperson in the email trail wrote to El-Kallawi categorically stipulating the need to revise the budget and have it trimmed by 20 percent and also to halt any sort of spending which they argue should not be executed without their approval. In the same email thread, one of the Directors Rudolph Ritman also confirmed his support for the Board Chairperson’s call for a budget cut although El-Kallawi raises concern, saying the budget cut could curtail the company’s operations.
The move, according to a source, is a threat to the company’s turnaround strategy which was set out in 2014 with the aim of achieving safety and security at all Airports, rehabilitating Airports country wide, keeping periodic maintenance of the Airport infrastructure country wide, ensure customer satisfaction and also morale boosting staff confidence.
The suspended CEO declined to comment to a message sent to his mobile phone on the popular Whatsapp social network, although the message was delivered.