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Friday 18 October 2019
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Budget cuts cripple road projects

The Mid-Year Budget cuts will take not less than N$300 million from major road construction projects under the Ministry of Works and Transport.
These revelations are reflected in documents seen by The Patriot stipulating where parts of the N$1.79 billion budget cut was being sliced from.

Of the many capital projects under the razor are ‘Harambee Projects’ namely, the Windhoek – Okahandja road, Swakopmund – Walvis Bay road, Windhoek – Hosea Kutako road, Swakopmund – Henties Bay- Kamanjab road and a couple of road rehabilitation projects that will either have to wait till the next financial year or be stopped completely.
The biggest chunk of N$102 million comes from the construction of the Windhoek- Hosea Kutako Road To A Dual Carriage conversion which at the moment is in its infancy stage.

A slash from this project budget may translate into a delay if workers are to down tools, with insiders saying the cut may eventually result in construction to be halted completely.
Should this project stop, it would not be the first time contractors working on this road down tools. In 2016, a Chinese company, the China Railway Seventh Group, said they were stopping work due to non-payment by the Roads Authority.
During the same year, budget cuts took the same toll on the construction of roads. Finance minister Calle Schlettwein in a mid-year budget review delivered in October cut the developmental budget with N$13 billion.

Some contractors had to completely down tools while other had to forge ahead after letting some of their workforce go.
The Windhoek – Okahandja road works, which are tipped as the biggest Harambee project at the moment risks a total standstill with N$90 million taken from the project.

A source from the National Planning Commission is well informed that the works and transport ministry will find itself between a rock and a hard place paying invoices for that specific project.
The Patriot understands that the ministry was already operating on a shoestring budget only enough to get the project into the next financial year, thus a further cut would cause massive uncertainty on the continuity of the project.
“It is either they will stop or the government will owe these guys a lot of money. But from the look of things, construction might stop,” said the source who added that the ministry spends nothing less than N$40 million to N$50 million monthly on that project.
The 412 km Swakopmund – Henties Bay – Kamanjab road, which is about 100 km already done will also see the toll with N$7 057 012 taken from the project. The Swakopmund – Walvis Bay road suffers a N$100 million deficit.
According to National Planning Commission Permanent Secretary Annely Haiphene who authored a letter on the subject, addressed to all accounting officers, the budget shortfall was necessitated “to cater for urgent national activities for 2018/2019 financial year.”
She further justified the cuts by saying; “Due to the limited fiscal space that the country finds itself in, fiscal consolidation measures needed to be applied, hence the Development Budget was revised downwards for re-allocation purposes.”
The ministry could not comment this week saying they needed to be accorded time to compile a comprehensive report on the impact of the budget cuts. Public Relations Officer at Works Julius Ngweda however expressed concern saying that the situation places the ministry in an uncomfortable situation.




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