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Construction Sector Says Government Projects Exclude Namibians

By:Staff writer
The construction sector has reiterated calls to cancel several projects, which they argue exclude most Namibians.
In a statement by the Construction Industries Federation (CIF) and the Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (Manwu), the two entities argue that most Namibian-owned contractors are excluded due to steep financial prequalification or qualification requirements.
These projects include the N$255 million Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture tender awarded to August 26 for the construction of classrooms, Nampower’s 70MWp project in Rosh Pinah, the Road Authority’s N$344 million rehabilitation of the 30 kilometre road between Karibib and Usakos of which locals have been awarded N$64 million.
“All the developments are extremely disappointing and undermine Namibia’s own contractors. Namibian contractors as well as professionals in the construction sector are in desperate need for work.
“There seems to be no understanding, and no deliberate attempt to optimally support our local industry. This not only includes majority Namibian-owned SMEs but also majority Namibian-owned mid-size contractors and majority Namibian-owned large size contractors,” said CIF CEO, Bärbel Kirchner.
Kirchner argues that, as it appears, local contractors, in particular the large-size contractors are deliberately undermined, which she says can bring about the insolvency and eventually bankruptcy of established and well capacitated contractors.
“Many of Namibia’s large-size contractors have invested in plants and machinery and have financial obligations which demand a related turnover. If indeed these businesses were to close down, Namibia will lose the backbone of its building and construction sector; and Namibia will become increasingly dependent on foreign contractors. Once the latter have succeeded in fully capturing the Namibian market, it is very likely that there will be an eventual change to their business models and their costing and pricing strategy.”
The Nampower Nampower project in particular, which is funded by the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), Kirchner says, is of such a size that again our own contractors are excluded to participate, even if they were to consider a joint venture.
Regarding Nawater’s African Development Bank-funded projects, CIF and Manwu say the projects have excessive financial pre-qualifications, which they argue excludes all Namibian contractors.
The financial qualifications are N$512 million (US$27 million), N$702 million (US$37 million), and N$246 million (US$13 million), respectively.
“Therefore, Namibia’s own contractors are excluded despite them having built water retaining structures throughout Namibia. This is also despite the fact that a Namibian contractor has supplied and commissioned the existing Ohangwena, Eenhana RO plant at a value of N$6.6 million.
“Now, the tender requirements include an additional RO plant and ancillary works, the size of which is smaller than half of the current RO plant, yet the related experience qualification is N$246 million (US$13 million),” the joint statement reads.
Meanwhile, Manwu Secretary-General Justina Jones argued that middle-men or “tenderpreneurs” have brought a bad name to the sector.
“We all know that tenderpreneurs, very likely, are a project of corrupt officials who are in bed with foreign contractors. Tenderpreneurs are the ones who are messing up and it seems there is no one that is ready to hold them accountable. We have been calling for the establishment of the National Construction Council so that the sector is properly regulated,”Jones added.

Staff Writer

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