Unfinished pipeline impacts 7 000 residents

20 March 2019 | Infrastructure

About 6 932 people and 33 790 large and 18 395 small stock units are facing thirst, as the agriculture ministry battles to finish the Ondangwa-Omuntele pipeline project.

The initial budget for the project was N$46.4 million in 2014, but it ballooned to N$51.1 million in 2017. In March 2017 the contractor stopped working with only 89% of the work complete.

The water ministry terminated the contract and is currently considering an official procurement process for the construction work to resume in the 2019/20 financial year. This is according to agriculture ministry executive director Percy Misika. Misika said the pipeline extension scheme stretches for about 50 kilometres in a south-western direction to Onadhi and eastwards to Onanke and is expected to benefit more than 928 households, constituting 6 932 direct beneficiaries and 33 790 large and 18 395 small stock units.

“The initial budget of the project contract in 2014 was N$46 374 883, but by 2017 the estimated contract value was N$51 116 368. During the construction stage a six-month extension of time was approved for the contractor, based on certain challenges that were experienced by the contractor as well as the ministry.

“Within the granted extension time period the contractor terminated the contract due to extreme cash flow problems caused by late payments,” Misika said in the response to enquiries by Namibian Sun. “The six months lapsed on 31 March 2017; the construction work was therefore not finalised and the contractor stopped all work on-site. The prolonging of the completion of the construction and additional work caused additional costs that exceeded the contract amount.” The Omuntele constituency councillor Sacky Nangula said the pipeline project initially was planned from Omuntele to Onadhi, but was extended by 20 kilometres to Okuma. The budget thus proved insufficient.

Misika added that another challenge that emerged was the bulk water supply by NamWater.

He said due to the considerable increase in water demand on the current infrastructure, additional upgrades of existing infrastructure is envisaged this will contribute to additional costs for the Ondangwa-Omuntele extension scheme.

He said the project was initiated as a drought relief scheme, due to poor groundwater quality (saline and brackish) and the quantity of water in the region.

He said it was found that various parts of northern Namibia are well-known for poor water quality and in certain circumstances the quantity of available water is also problematic.

Government and the relevant authorities had to take action to provide potable water for both the residents and livestock in these parts of the country.

“Due to fact that the original contract was terminated, an official procurement process in line with the Public Procurement Act will have to be started in the 2019/20 financial year. Budget provision is already made for the completion of the scheme.

“The construction of the Ondangwa-Omuntele extension (original contract) is 89% complete. The main outstanding items are special fittings (air valves, scour valves, bulk water meters), a booster pump station in Omuntele, final work at the reservoir in Omuntele, elephant protection measures at some of the water points in the grazing area, and testing and commissioning,” Misika added.

ILENI NANDJATO

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