…as !Naruseb turns to Shanghala for help
Attorney General Sakeus Shanghala has been dragged into a titanic N$235 million war between the works ministry and the Namibia Airports Company (NAC), and he has since given the legal greenlight for the tender to be given to a Chinese firm.
In his legal opinion issued a week ago, Shanghala advised works and transport minister, Alpheus !Naruseb, to direct NAC to enter into an agreement with China State Construction Engineering Corporation for the rehabilitation and upgrade of the runway, taxiway and apron at Ondangwa Airport.
His advice comes almost two months after !Naruseb wrote to Shanghala seeking legal opinion on the way forward.
Shanghala says the runway is of strategic governmental use and that it is a national security asset. He also mentioned that phase 2 needs to be executed because the minimum standards for aerodromes at Ondangwa Airport are not being met as per ICAO standards.
“Having due regard to the national security concerns raised above, and having established that there persists a legal relationship between NAC and China State Construction Engineering Corporation, it is my advice that the Minister may issue a directive to the NAC directing it to enter into the agreement with China State Construction Engineering Corporation, either acting ordinarily as a shareholder would direct directors to his/her enterprise, or by invoking section 9 of the NAC Act, 1998,” he said.
Shanghala is even prepared to assist !Naruseb to draft the response ordering NAC to comply.
“If the minister were to act in terms of section 9 of the NAC Act, 1998 because the directors of the NAC refuse to heed, the directive must comply with the requirements thereunder as per the Anhui judgment,” asserted Shanghala.
The Chinese firm was appointed as contractor for phase one of the rehabilitation and upgrade of the runway, taxiway and apron of Ondangwa Airport. In June 2016, NAC made a submission requesting for pre-approval for the reappointment of the Chinese firm to execute the second phase.
Phase 2 will cost NAC N$211.6 million excluding consultancy fees.
Shanghala maintains that the appointment of the Chinese firm in June 2016 remains valid until it is set aside by a court of law or until China State Construction Engineering Corporation consents to the NAC abandoning its decision.
Corruption claims galore
NAC has recently been rocked by a dossier produced by auditing firm, Deloitte, detailing allegations of corruption at the organisation. It eventually led to the suspension of several top officials.
The airport tender is said to have brought the company’s reputation to its knees.
The Patriot has seen sensitive documents indicating that senior officials- both in the works ministry and at Attorney General’s office – have already been paid by the Chinese company to deliver the project.
The incumbent NAC board has also been accused of allegedly paying their lawyer legal fees in excess of N$3 million instead of using the attorney general’s office which offers free legal services to state entities.
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. He is not the biggest of heavyweights on the political arena 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.
Aurecon hits back
But while NAC continues to question the cost of the project, the consulting engineers maintain that the cost price of N$211, 616, 796.30 is accurate.
Aurecon Namibia’s country manager, Lukie van Staden, wrote to the permanent secretary of the works ministry, Willem Goeieman on 22 September 2017, indicating that it would be wise to proceed with phase 2 at the given price.
Van Staden, in the letter, said NAC had requested Aurecon in February 2017 to obtain a cost estimate from the contractor for Phase 1, in order to proceed with Phase 2. “The initial cost estimate submitted in February 2016 was based on the rates as originally tendered by the Contractor for Phase 1. When the final Bill of Quantities was available for pricing on 6 June 2016, the contractor requested that the rates, as originally tendered for Phase 1(October 2014) be adjusted for price increases up to June 2016,” he said.
According to van Staden, Aurecon submitted the Phase 2 priced bill of quantities for Ondangwa Airport on 15 June 2016. “We focused on considered major items such as the P&G sections, the gravel layers related to emulsion treated base, the asphalt and the concrete.
The concrete prices seem in line with prices obtained during the Phase 1 tender process.
The other 3 major components have increased, by different proportions to the Phase 1 rates. Considering these 3 major components against equivalent values that might have been provided if the information from the second placed tendering for the Phase 1 work was used, the work still seems to be market-related-in other words, there is a good chance that these updated prices would still have been the lowest price.
Taking the availability of resources on site into account and the required time frames, it seems beneficial if the NAC board would consider approval for the Phase 2 work to continue,” he said.
The total consulting fees plus construction cost of phase 2 will thus amount to N$235, 952, 727.84.