The Ministry of Works and Transport and the Namibia Airports Company continue to tussle over the construction of phase 2 at Ondangwa Airport.
Official documents seen by The Patriot shows how the Ministry attempted to bulldoze the project when it instructed NAC to proceed with phase 2 and 3 of the project early in December 2016.
On 1 December 2016, at a meeting chaired by Minister of Works and Transport Alpheus !Naruseb, it was resolved that Namibia Airports Company must proceed with phase 2 and 3 of the Ondandgwa Rehabilitation Project at a cost of N$235.9 million as a matter of urgency.
The tender to carry out phase 2 of Ondangwa Airport, involves the rehabilitation of aprons, taxiways and appurtenant works, was awarded to China State Construction Engineering Corporation on 24 June 2016. China State Construction is the same company that completed phase 1.
The appointment letter which is in The Patriot’s possession dated 24 June 2016 indicates that the agreed price for phase 2 was N$211.6 million and the remaining balance of N$24.3 million was seemingly earmarked for phase 3.
In a letter written to now suspended NAC CEO Tamer El-Kallawi, the permanent secretary of the works ministry stressed the importance of the Ondangwa rehabilitation project.
“Mr. El-Kallawi, as you are fully aware with the new arrival of Qatar Airline, Ethiopian Airways and KLM the country has to ensure to meet up with international standards and requirements as far as airports infrastructure is concerned,” said Goeiemann,
NAC is however adamant that the due processes would have to followed for the project to be started.
Phase 2 was awarded to the Chinese firm without due process followed. In line with public procurement procedures, a new tender was supposed to be advertised. However the former board unilaterally awarded the tender without a public tender process.
NAC continues to avert aviation storms as far as the upgrade of the Hosea Kutako International and Ondangwa airports is concerned. This is taking place at a time when the country continues to attract huge airlines and subsequently high volumes of tourists.
Both government and NAC have been trying to find ways modernize the local aviation sector, albeit at snail’s pace.
While political weight is a crucial element for board members during contract negotiations in Namibia, the NAC board’s influence when it comes to deciding on its own projects seems to be outweighing that of the works ministry.
The Rodgers Kauta-led board remains steadfast to its decision to have the project cancelled pending an adequate review as far as costing and the awarding process is concerned.
Kauta has now fallen victim of the tussle for the Ondangwa project.
He stands accused of taking a N$6 million bribe to act as an agent for a Turkish company that allegedly tasked him to ensure that the project is cancelled and re-tendered. Kauta refuted these claims and indicated that he is being framed as punishment for cancelling the project.
A document circulated to media houses indicates that Kauta’s private company, Econo Investments entered into an agreement on 25 January 2017 with Tasyapi Group. According to the document, the Turkish firm would pay Kauta N$1 million if he ensures that the project is cancelled and an award fee of N$5 million.
While vehemently denying the alleged agreement, Kauta maintained that the claims will not deter him to ensure that public resources are spent in a frugal manner
He is not the biggest of heavyweights on the political arena to lobby for support as he continues to fend-off support from the !Naruseb-led ministry, but his legal background gives him some clout.
NAC continues to maintain that the compulsory procurement procedures were not followed when the contract was awarded.
China State Construction Engineering Corporation wrote to NAC on 7 December 2016 in a letter that is seen by many as a conceding letter as far as the project awarding is concerned.
“China State Construction, was fortunate to participate in the first phase and might be given the opportunity to continue working on the second phase. Our role in Namibia, is to empower credible local companies and be part of a skills transfer process.
It is on that basis that we should like to suggest that if we are given phase 2, we would like you to consider RCC projects, as our joint venture partner,” said the firm’s head of New Business Development, Sky Ding.