Millions spent on unfinished govt office

20 June 2019 | Infrastructure

A N$16 million fisheries ministry infrastructure project in Rundu, which has been under construction since 2012, is still standing incomplete, resulting in officials operating from dilapidated rented offices.

According to the ministry the Kavango East regional office project has stalled because the contractor, Africa Civil Engineering, which was handed the site on 7 August 2015 to complete remaining work, has decided to inflate the price, which the ministry is not prepared to tolerate.

The works ministry is currently in the process of terminating the contract for this reason.

Executive City Construction was the initial contractor in 2012, until their contract was terminated for failing to carryout and complete the work as per the original scope.

“The project has gone for determination of contract, hence is not complete due to the price escalation, which is not permitted. Therefore the Ministry of Works and Transport is determining the contract of the contractor,” the fisheries ministry said in its response when contacted for comment.

It was reported in May last year that Africa Civil Engineering would complete the project by the end of 2018.

At the time Africa Civil Engineering's Petrus Kapula was quoted by New Era saying they have demonstrated their capacity to complete the project.

“We have demonstrated our capacity and capability to the ministry to conclude this project. Once everything and all agreements are in place, we will probably finish this project within six to seven months,” Kapula said.

It was further revealed that Africa Civil Engineering was paid about N$5.8 million for work done from 7 August 2015 to 7 July 2017.

About N$643 000 was retained by the works ministry, which was to be paid once the project was completed. Attempts to get comment from Kapula since last Friday proved futile as he was unreachable on his cellphone.

Africa Civil Engineering is currently constructing the N$7 million Kavango East Swapo office at Rundu, which has been delayed and was expected to be completed by April this year.

Namibian Sun visited fisheries office site and was greeted by a security guard, who was guarding the incomplete structures.

This was followed up by a visit to the Namibia Industrial Development Agency (NIDA) offices, formerly known as Namibia Development Corporation (NDC), where the ministry has been renting 13 offices and two storerooms for its officials for more than a decade.

The officials expressed their dissatisfaction with their working environment, as some plug sockets and the lights are not working and space is limited.

“As you can see the lights are not working and this is not my office; I just moved in here because in my office the plug is not functioning for me to connect my computer,” one official said on condition of anonymity.

“We are not informed about the incomplete office you are enquiring about, but all I can say is that we cannot carry out our work effectively.”

The ministry explained they are faced with a number of challenges at the rented premises.

“The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources is currently renting offices from the NDC in Rundu for the 17 staff members of the DoAIF (directorate of aquaculture and inland fisheries) and operations. These offices do not have lab facilities for research and ponds for demonstration. Also lacking is a proper internet and telephone system,” ministry deputy director Elizabeth Swartz said. Swartz said the Kamutjonga Inland Fisheries Institute at Divundu is currently performing the research and demonstration function in Kavango East. Namibian Sun understands that once the office project is complete it will house an office building, ablution block, workshop, wash bay and net drying facility, a fish feed store, a boat, a trailer storage facility, garages, a generator room and a guard house.

The regional office will also offer installations of specialist services, equipment and associated ancillary site work.

KENYA KAMBOWE