Shafudah gets slap on the wrist

15 May 2017 | Government

Ministry of Finance permanent secretary Ericah Shafudah has been issued a final written warning for failing to attend technical committee meetings that have to do with the construction of the multi-billion-dollar fuel storage facility at Walvis Bay.

Expressing his dissatisfaction, cabinet secretary George Simataa wrote to Shafudah last week, decrying her conduct.

“I have concluded that your conduct into the National Oil Facility project, in particular your failure to attend to meetings of the technical committee, of which you were an integral member, has contributed to the development of a situation detrimental and prejudicial to government,” he said.

Attorney-general Sacky Shanghala instructed Simataa to launch an investigation into the tender for the construction of the bulk fuel storage facility after construction costs skyrocketed from an initial N$920 million to over N$5 billion.





Following the conclusion of the investigation, Simataa had found that there was an impression that the government would be exposed to currency fluctuations because of Shafudah's inability to attend the technical committee meetings.



“Whereas you have maintained the correct position, namely that the tender currency was Namibia dollars and all-inclusive and that government did not assume any risk for currency fluctuations, your failure to attend the technical committee meetings has enabled others to create the impression that government had in fact assumed the risk for currency fluctuations.”



Shafudah's warning will remain valid for a period of 12 months.



Shafudah did not respond to Namibian Sun's questions why she had been unavailable for the technical committee meeting.



It had been reported that National Planning Commission (NPC) permanent secretary Leevi Hungamo had warned then minister of finance Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and current NPC director-general Tom Alweendo of currency fluctuations which would affect the price of the tender.



Meanwhile, Hungamo and the chief legal advisor at the Office of the Attorney-General, Chris Nghaamwa, have become the first state officials to be charged for their roles in the bulk fuel storage facility. Shanghala had suggested that Hungamo be charged with misconduct, although it is not yet clear at this point how he will be charged.



The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) also probed irregularities regarding the fuel storage facility, with confirmation that it would be looking at interviewing members of the cabinet technical committee which included Shafudah, former ministry of mines and energy PS Kahijoro Kahuure, former ministry of works and transport PS Peter Mwatile and Hungamo.



ACC head Paulus Noa was recently quoted as saying: “We need to investigate the role that all these committees played in the entire process and why conditions set out in the tender regulations were not adhered to. We need to hear from these different people about what had led to the ballooning of the price.”



Around 2008 and 2009 the National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (Namcor) initiated the idea to build the oil storage facility to penetrate the petroleum supply market.



Namcor since 2003 had a 50% import mandate, which in 2010 was taken away from it by former minister of mines and energy Isak Katali. Namcor, which then had a supply agreement with Glencore, had incurred major losses and went into a technical bankruptcy.



Today all petroleum products are again imported by private oil companies.



By 2010 Namcor had drawn up the designs for the fuel storage facility, it had completed a full environmental impact assessment on the project and finalised prequalification of tenders.



The costing on the entire project in 2010 was pegged at N$800 million. It was then also estimated that the project would have been completed in 2012.



The project is now estimated to be finalised by the middle of this year. What raised concerns, however, is that the estimated cost has in two years ballooned to more than N$3 billion in 2013, and then to N$4.5 billion in 2014 and it is now pegged at N$5.5 billion.

OGONE TLHAGE

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