• Airport tender exposes undercover dealings
• NAC handpicks companies
• Told to restart tender process
Treasury has blocked Namibia Airports Company (NAC) from continuing with the controversial Hosea Kutako International Airport tender because the agency did not comply with the Public Procurement Act.
Treasury said NAC cannot proceed and therefore the process must be cancelled and bidders must be re-invited to participate.
The Minister of Finance Calle Schlettwein last month granted NAC exemption to invoke emergency procurement for the much overdue upgrade at the Hosea Kutako International Airport to the tune of N$95 million.
Although NAC got exemption to invoke emergency procurement through direct procurement, Treasury maintains that such exemption did not include the sourcing of consultants.
The directive was issued in a report dated 5 November 2018 that was compiled after the Ministry of Finance’s Procurement Policy Unit did an inspection at the NAC.
NAC resolved to appoint Kerry Mcnamara as architects, Burhmann& Partners to carry out the project management, Windhoek Consulting Engineers as the project engineers and Richard Frankle and Partners as the Quantity Surveyors.
The companies were roped in to help NAC with the implementation of the Project to Eliminate Congestion and Security Concerns at HKIA.
These appointments, according to Treasury were flawed in many ways because the probe found that no expression of interest was done to invite bidders to participate, and bidders were handpicked and invited to submit company profiles, despite the country’s procurement laws making it clear that an expression of interest must be carried out when the estimated value of the procurement is above N$5 million.
“The Policy Unit questioned what necessitated the cancellation of the procurement that was nearly complete and start a fresh procurement of the consultancy under the exemption,” reads the report.
The probe also found that upon perusal of the bidding document proposals, only the technical proposals were opened while none of the financial proposals were opened. During the investigation it emerged that the recommended company was recommended without financial implications as its financial proposals were still not opened.
“It was also found that no bid opening session was held, hence no bid opening report is available as required by Section 51 of the Act.
As outlined in the incoming bids register, only three bids were received by the closing date that was scheduled for 24 October 2018. The Chief Procurement Officer indicated that she was aware that the fourth Bidder came late however she was not aware who introduced the bid to the other three bids,” the report further states.
NAC, the report stated, requested company profiles from six companies to which three responded. The three are Barnard Mutua Architects, Kerry McNamara Architects and Claud Bosch Architects.
Surprisingly, it was later discovered that there were four bidders. Marley Tjitjo Architects was the fourth bidder.
The report also said that a recommendation was given by the Procurement Committee for the award of the contract to Kerry McNamara, however, the investigators could not ascertain the awarding of the contract as there was no evidence.
According to NAC, it chose Kerry McNamara Architects because it “was the only firm to demonstrate improvement with the current apron congestion and they made proposals that are easily obtainable once they start with the implementation of the project.”
“This would allow us to eliminate quite a number of congestion related problems experienced on the apron with the current situation at hand,” the NAC report notes.
When Schlettwein granted the exemption on 11 October he did not imagine that NAC would use such powers to push its own agenda and source services and goods that fall beyond the exemption scope.
When Treasury learned of the array of issues during the procurement phase, it quickly stepped in to stop the rot.
The exemption even gave NAC room to flout national tender regulations that states that all government tenders worth more than N$35 million must be awarded through the Central Procurement Board.
The law allows the Minister to grant a state agency powers to bypass this process and issue a contract directly in emergency situations, however, critics are of the view that the HKIA crisis is self-created.
“You are directed to do the procurement of goods, works and services in order to mitigate the urgent situation at the Hosea Kutako International Airport,” Schlettwein wrote.
Schlettwein’s letter said the N$95 million includes renovating the check-in area (N$16 million), baggage feeder conveyor and reclaim belts (N$9 million), additional counters and furniture (N$7 million), passenger screening equipment (N$6 million) and special airport systems (N$5,6 million).
The Chinese effect
As expected, the Chinese government is already lurking in the dark waiting for a chance to pounce on the multimillion dollar airport upgrade job.
In a letter dated 2 July 2018, the Ambassador of China to Namibia Zhang Yiming wrote to the Minister of Economic Planning Obeth Kandjoze informing him that the Chinese government attaches great importance to the airport upgrading project.
He said China has conducted thorough studies of Namibia’s project proposal.
“In light of our long term friendship and the newly-forged Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, we are willing to provide assistance that we can afford to this project,” said the Ambassador.