A once uneasy relationship between the Ministry of Works Transport Permanent Secretary, Peter Mwatile and Namibian Airports Company Acting Chief Executive Officer, Tamar Ell-Kalawi last year contributed to the parastatal failing to upgrade key Airports including the Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA) which is now downgraded, The Villager can reveal.
The once difficult relationship, The Villager, can also reveal saw the upgrading of HKIA and Ondangwa Airports being side-lined because the administrative head of the ministry and El-Kallawi were not singing from the same hymn book and conflicting over who should be awarded the tender. Investigations also show that El-Kalawi traded accusations on delaying these national projects because the Ministry was not in a position to consider the about N$7b request needed for the upgrade of the key airports which should be done in phases.
Investigations also confirmed that the NAC’s Acting Chief Executive Officer clashed with his boss several times last year between August and December over the manner in which Mwatile tried to interfere into the decision making of companies given tenders to refurbish HKIA, Ondangwa International Airport, Walvis Bay Airport and Mpacha Airport in Katima Mulilo.
Currently the approved contractor has finally been given access to Mpacha Airport and Walvis Bay Airport after being told off initially by NAC and HKIA still needs to wait while the NAC and the Ministry of Works approach cabinet for the astounding N$4.2million needed to build a new terminal and also construct a new apron. The project is expected to be implemented in phases if it gets cabinet blessings.
At one point El-Kalawi shared harsh correspondence with Mwatile accusing him of interfering with the operations of the company and the laid down tender regulations. Some of the correspondences seen by The Villager show heavy arguments over the awarding of a contract to a local company to refurbish Mpacha and Walvis Bay International Airport which El-Kallawi argued where given to a company without relevant experiences.
The Villager can also confirm that the dampened relationship between the CEO and Mwatile also resulted in the parastatal writing to the Ministry and the contractors telling them that they will not be allowed access to the Airport facilities to commence their work although their tenders were approved.
NAC also categorically refused to give the contractors, which they argued are inexperienced, access to Mpacha Airport and Walvis Bay resulting in the Permanent Secretary interfering.
Mwatile last week refused to comment on his relationship to Acting Chief Executive Officer saying, “I do not speak to The Villager.” While El-Kalawi said he does not have anything to do with the media. “I would like to make it clear that I do not care about what the media thinks or write so you might as well go ahead and write what you want. Why are you concerned about small issues relating to me and the PS. Even if we had differences he is my boss. My board reports to him and I report to the board so we have to work together. If you want me to give you further comment then you will have to write an email to me and wait for me to respond when I am ready,” he said.
The major bone of contention between the two is interference on each other’s jurisdiction with the PS believing he has control over the tendering system of the company while Ell-Kalawi and his board believe they should be given a mandate as enshrined in the constitution to scrutinise who receives tenders relating to the refurbishment and upgrading of the country’s national airports.
At one point El-Kalawi and his management wrote the PS querying usurping of their powers in making vital decisions such as the awarding of tenders. In one of those correspondences NAC argue that they want to keep control of the tendering system and eventually recommend to the PS while Mwatile feels the ministry should be in control.