RA's N$219m hazard

The newly constructed Roads Authority building's multiple concrete beams are being held together by straps and rudimentary steel additions, as cracks run down the middle.

09 April 2018 | Government

Newly appointed works and transport minister John Mutorwa will tackle the unfolding saga surrounding the shoddy work that went into the construction of the N$219 million new headquarters for the Roads Authority (RA) during a two-hour media conference today.

Mutorwa, who took the reins as the country's new works minister recently, said he will engage the media on a number of issues during his media conference, which will also be attended by other parastatals that fall under his ministry.

“I will be having a press conference where I will be addressing a number of issues, so please come,” Mutorwa said yesterday.

RA spokesperson Hileni Fillemon requested written questions to be sent to her and would not respond telephonically to any queries, when asked about the state of the new building, or an outstanding report that was to have been submitted.

Images seen by Namibian Sun show how the newly constructed building's multiple beams are being held together by straps as cracks run down the middle.

Steel beams have since been erected to help support the existing concrete beams, which are already showing signs of distress.

RA CEO Conrad Lutombi previously said there is no cause for concern that the building will collapse and that precautionary measures were being taken nonetheless to guard against any looming potential catastrophe.

“It was a cautionary measure from our side, and we needed to be sure there is nothing wrong with it. So far, the southern wing has been occupied, the information technology and engineering departments are already there; just not on the affected floor,” he said.

According to him, independent engineers had already been roped in to investigate any potential hazards at the N$219 million building, adding there was a very minimal risk that the building may collapse.

“There is only a 2% chance that it might collapse, but I do not want to take any chances. I am not being unnecessarily harsh either. I just want to be sure because safety is key. This building needs to stand for the next 100 years,” Lutombi said.

Lutombi said they had been scheduled to move into the new building in February after they were issued with a completion certificate, but before they could occupy it, they detected the faults.

“While we moved into the new building we detected cracks on one of the pillars on the ground floor,” said Lutombi.





According to him, they informed the construction company about the defects and they have carried out investigations to find out the cause of the cracks.

“We did not want to take a chance and we instructed our engineers to investigate. They hired an expert from South Africa and we also hired our own independent engineer to find out what caused the cracks,” said Lutombi.

Bicon Namibia Consulting Engineers were mandated by the RA to investigate the cause of the cracks in the building. The report has not yet been made public by the RA.

The seven-storey building was constructed by Namibia Construction (NC) with two basement levels and is located on the south-easterly corner of the intersection of David Hosea Meroro Road and Mandume Ndemufayo Avenue.

The project team consisted of Stauch & Partners, (principal agents), Bicon Namibia (structural, mechanical and electrical experts) and Richard Frankle & Partners (quantity surveyors).

The construction contract for the building was awarded to NC in 2013 and construction started in 2014.

Government will also have to attend to other shoddy projects, one such being poor work done on a stretch of highway in the Zambezi Region, which is expected to cost the taxpayer and additional N$200 million on top of the N$872 million already spent on construction alone.

It is alleged that substandard material and poor quality design contributed to the poor quality of the 210km stretch of the Siselo-Linyanti-Kongola road.

Works officials said that some sections of the road would have to be redone completely. This will bring the total cost of the project to close to N$1.1 billion.

“Government might have to redo the road completely in some parts and this will cost it not less than N$200 million on top of what has already been spent. The contractors of the road were only responsible for construction of the road with material from designated borrow pits approved by the RA,” sources told a weekly newspaper recently.

The road has been marred with potholes, while it has been further alleged that substandard material was used to construct it.

Airing his concerns in a ministerial memo, Mutorwa vented his frustration at the substandard quality of work government has to pay for.

“As a layperson, my reading of the two reports shows that things have not and are not going on well so well with these two projects. Costs appear to be increasing whereas the quality of the work appears to be decreasing and deteriorating. What an unacceptable contradiction. Is government paying for quality or lack of it?” Mutorwa wrote.

The road was constructed as a joint venture project between the Roads Contractor Company and MCC.

During inspection, works officials had found that the road was marred with potholes, scoured shoulders, a damaged roadway and exposed road layers.

OGONE TLHAGE

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