N$1.6b railway tender torches storm

The Ministry of Works and Transport is in the eye of a storm after issuing a N$1.6 billion railway procurement tender that will run over three years and will see about 60 000 metric tonnes of rail being imported  without the relevant advise on the technicalities of the tender specification The Villager can reveal.
The shipment will be broken down to 20 000 metric tonnes over three years but, ironically, the Ministry chose to have the whole consignment shipped in at once despite the move defying the odds.
The tender which attracted more than 200 companies both locally and internationally is key to steering the Harambee Prosperity Plan action on improving transport and logistics but, could see the Ministry facing challenges executing it as the consignment is arguably of the largest ever done in the country.
Minister of Works and Transport Permanent Secretary Willem Goeieman refused to comment saying he needed to consult on the issue first before going public. ”This is a tender issue and I cannot just comment on it, I am in the United States and cannot comment at this time,” Goeieman said.
The Ministry has also awarded a tender to a local company to clear sand from the railway network in a deal that is worth N$60 million over six months despite Government cutting down on unnecessary expenditure. The Villager understands that the Ministry has now been forced to commit N$10 million payment per month to service the contract.
Speaking to The Villager, the Deputy Minister of Works Sankwasa James Sankwasa James argued this sentiments saying that the Ministry was advised by state lawyer, Attorney General Sacky Shangala.
“Government was advised by the AG on this tender and we will not make irrational decisions without consultations. The Ministry of works has engineers in service and they advise us on all projects, including railway projects,” Sankwasa said.
Backing the Minister, Works and Transport Public Relations officer Julius Ngweda said the Ministry will not hit a brick wall when it comes to the logistics part of the tender.
“The Ministry wants 20 000 metric tons of rail annually from this tender and our Walvis Bay Port (Namport) will be able to transport the rail from Walvis Bay. We have capacity,” Sankwasa said.
The logistics of this tender will however not go smoothly as Namibia’s port cannot accommodate such a heavy load at once.
However despite assurances from the Deputy Ministry of Works and Transport that the planned acquisition of the rail will be done smoothly NamPort Chief Executive Office Busey Uirab told The Villager that port does not have the capacity to handle more that 20 000 metric tonnes of cargo at once.
To add on to the poor planning around the current tender The Villager also understands that the country does not have sufficient space to store the amount of cargo that the ministry wants to import.
Uirab said that NamPort can accommodated up to that 10 000 Metric Tons of steel.
This will add additional transport expenses and will put strain to productivity as only 10 000 metric tons of rail will be transported at once.
“We never handled a once off shipment of over 10 000 MT before. They varied between 6 500 MT to 7 000 MT. Meaning for this shipment the vessel has to make six to seven calls at reasonable intervals, giving us enough time to get consignment out of the harbour. We have the capacity and the means to handle the importation of these rail tracks,” Uirab said.
He added that overall, they are comfortable that NamPort will be in a position to handle the consignment and what will be required is thorough planning between NamPort and all stakeholders in this project. The Villager also understands that the tender although its meant for Namibian registered companies has also attracted attention from foreign mafia who are offering surety to Namibian companies. According to the specifications of the controversial tender the winner of the tender should be able to give 10 percent surety for the successful execution of the project.
The Villager investigations on the irregularities also revealed that a Zimbabwean controversial businessman Frank Buyanga who is wanted in his native country for different crimes including fraud where he defrauded desperate loan seekers is also using some Namibian companies to bid for the tender in return for surety.
Buyanga operated a loan shark business in Zimbabwe that saw him taking several houses from those he assisted with finances resulting in the Zimbabwean Authorities issuing a warrant of arrest. He is currently residing in Johannesburg South African and his business tentacles spread across both Zimbabwe and South Africa.
In the past NamPort has never handled cargo of 60 000 MT.
NamPort only handled vessels berth 4 -6 carry cargo between 7 and 10 000 MTs, Uirab said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry has targeted to upgrade 100km railway network for the 2016/17 financial year, while about N$978.2 million will be allocated to the upgrades and rehabilitation of the main national railway line network infrastructure in the country, which is still in a dilapidated state.