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WE ARE NOT EMPLOYING FOREIGN CONTRACTORS – LUTOMBI 

By: Justicia Shipena

The Roads Authority of Namibia chief executive officer, Conrad Lutombi, says they are not employing foreign contractors to work on Namibian roads.

This comes as the Namibia engineering society complained that the entity is not complying with the engineering profession amendment act 24 of 1991.

In this vein, Lutombi has said it is not true to say the authority is employing foreign contractors.

“We are not employing the foreigners,” he said.

According to him, the engineering society has not approached the Roads Authority in this matter.

Lutombi stated that the appointment of road contractors in Namibia is made through the public procurement Act, which came into force in 2017.

“Before the procurement act came in force, we had the Road Authority Procurement policy. So all procurement was done in terms of that policy. We now comply fully with the public procurement act,” he explained.

He added that the public procurement act has tenders, and most of the tenders are national tenders.

“Whereas it is run locally and internationally. The constructors tender, but all the tenders go through a process.”

Lutombi said a procurement board runs the tenders, and the Roads Authority only prepares the bid document.

“The board approves those bidding documents, and the tenders are derived from the procurement board. For us, we are only brought in to come and sign the contract once the procurement board has approved the contractor.”

He further said if there is a foreign contractor, it is instructed to provide a list of its key staff.

“They are instructed then to recruit Namibians. Where there are no Namibians, the contractors have to justify to us as well as the Home Affairs ministry.”

According to the engineering society, the Roads Authority, whose core business is to construct and maintain Namibia’s road sector, is legally required to adhere to and uphold all requirements about the engineering profession.

Additionally, they have stated that they have observed that the roads authority has not been complying with several of these requirements.

Hence, the society has submitted a petition and have stated that the regional engineering manager at Oshakati does not qualify as an exceptional rule with a skill set requirements with specialized knowledge that Namibian registered engineers cannot fulfil and as it pertains to the directive of the ministry public enterprise dated 24 January 2020.

Therefore, the society requested that the Roads Authority be tasked to demonstrate and provide evidence that any other Namibian candidate in the regional engineering manager Oshakati does not possess the skills required for the position while being fully registered with the engineering council of Namibia.

Additionally, they request the Roads Authority to comply with the engineering professions bill of 2019 to seize the practice of engaging expatriates who are not registered or have failed to register with the engineering council within a year of employment in Namibia and offer remuneration in line with the bill once passed.

Furthermore, they stated that it should be noted that the annual understudy reports are always positive regarding the performance of local engineering over the past 15 years. Still, the Roads Authority continues to undermine local talent and experience.

They are petitioning the Roads Authority not to treat the understudy program as mere window dressing.

The engineering society also implored the roads authority to seize from renewing the contract terms of expatriates whose duties can be fulfilled by fully registered Namibian engineers.

In this vein, the society then wrote to the ministry of works and transport regarding this matter.

Speaking to The Villager, works and transport minister John Mutorwa said that he has seen the letter and has forwarded it to the roads authority to address the issue.

“I saw the letter from them, and I sent it to the Roads Authority to advise on what exactly is happening,” said Mutorwa.

In a letter dated 12 August, the ministry of works and transport requested the Roads Authority to furnish the ministry with employees’ statistics on each project, including the expertise and nationality.

The letter also stated that the ministry had received several complaints of road contractors employing mainly foreign experts in key positions on most road projects in the country while local experts who are equally qualified are ignored.

 

Justicia Shipena

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