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N$343 Million Karibib-Usakos Chinese Tender Pushes Forward, Amid Backlash …sector calls for project cancellation, re-advertising

By:Justicia Shipena

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) is enraged that the Karibib-Usakos road rehabilitation project is proceeding.

This follows the announcement by the Roads Authority (RA) that it has chosen contractors and subcontractors for the reconstruction of the road in the Erongo region.

Four local companies were appointed as subcontractors, with Chinese Zhong Mei Engineering Group serving as the main contractor.

The four successful local contractors that will perform the works with the main contractor are Ino Investment Holdings cc for bridge works, Tangeni OM Trading cc for culverts and drains, West Trading cc for concrete kerbing and paving, and Alugodhi Trading cc for gabions and guard rails.

CIF CEO Bärbel Kirchner told Eagle FM that the federation was hoping the awarding would be withdrawn and re-advertised into smaller lots, which would have reduced budgetary obligations.

She stated that due to the high financial requirements, local contractors were unable to participate.

This demand might have been decreased if the project had been divided into smaller lots and involved many more local contractors, according to Kirchner.

“We, the CIF, are furious that this project is going ahead. We are very unhappy about it because we were looking forward to it being cancelled and re-advertised into smaller lots, which would have eased the financial requirements because our local contractors could not have participated because of the very steep financial requirements,” Kirchner explained.

She noted that if the financial requirements could have been decreased by dividing the project into smaller lots, many more local contractors might have been involved.

In May this year, CIF also lamented the exclusion of local Namibian-owned contractors from a road project overseen by the Roads Authority of Namibia.

The Roads Authority accepted proposals for the prequalification to reconstruct the 32-kilometre road between Karibib and Usakos in December last year.

The German government is funding the rehabilitation project through the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) at a cost of N$ 343,655,335.64 inclusive of VAT.

Kirchner stated that the appointment “does not provide any support to the industry and cannot be regarded as sustainable development.”

She went on to say that any foreign funder would like to see sustainable development, and that it is astounding that this was not a criteria for the bank.

“How can our government take out loans that basically would lead to exclusion of our own contractors and undermining of our industry? If we are not careful this can lead to the downfall of our industry.”

Kirchner said the fact that four local contractors are participating as subcontractors means nothing because it translates to 25% of the contract value rather than 100%.

“The money would have circulated now in our own economy and that is really unacceptable,” she stressed.

The CIF also questioned the technical criteria, asking why the roads authority required stabilised recycled sub-base and asphalt for this road.

“In the sense that bidders had to show that they had done certain volumes of asphalt and stabilised recycled sub-base. When precisely the same authority has not requested that before. This automatically excluded all local contractors,” Kirchner further stated.

The Roads Authority announced the appointment of Zhong Mei Engineering Group as the successful bidder in a media statement issued on August 11, emphasising that the successful bidder was obtained through an Open International Bidding (OIB) process in accordance with Section 30 of the Public Procurement Act, 2015 and KfW procurement guidelines.

In the statement, Roads Authority Chief Executive Officer Konrad Lutombi stated that the bid evaluation and subsequent appointment of the bidder were conducted in accordance with Section 52 of the Public Procurement Act, 2015, and the requirements as outlined in the issued bidding document both during the prequalification and bidding stages.

“Hence, Zhong Mei Engineering Group met all the specified requirements, including those outlined in section 52 of the Public Procurement Act, 2015,” Lutombi said.

After the bid evaluation was done, bidders were given a seven-day time to express their complaints, he said.

He stated that one complaint was raised during this time period and that the issues were addressed before the Roads Authority proceeded with the award.

As a result, he stamped that the successful contractor’s appointment completely conformed with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2015 and KfW regulations.

“However, any aggrieved bidder may still approach the review panel to seek recourse,” he added.

The total value of the works earmarked for local Namibian contractors is N$63,866,074.19, excluding VAT. This equates to 25.18% of the overall contract value.

Furthermore, the Roads Authority stated that roughly 500 job opportunities for Namibians will be generated throughout the building phase.

Meanwhile, building is set to begin in September 2023, with the project projected to be completed in March 2025.

According to Lutombi, this allows the contractors 18 months to complete the project.

He also stated that the city will guarantee that work is done meticulously throughout construction to minimise any disturbance to vehicles and people in the area.

Justicia Shipena

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