Work on Windhoek-Okahandja road stops

The Roads Authority (RA) admits to late payments to contractors but maintains that there is no shortage of funds.

17 January 2017 | Infrastructure

Conflicting reports have emerged on whether work has stopped on the N$1.085 billion second phase of the dual carriageway between Windhoek and Okahandja.

According to some sources all subcontractors have stopped working since 17:00 on Friday due to non-payment by the Roads Authority (RA).

Subcontractors preferring anonymity for fear of reprisals yesterday confirmed that work had indeed stopped and a site visit yesterday morning around 08:00 showed workers standing around idly.

Some contractors reportedly started working on the road last Monday but it is understood that an urgent meeting was held on Friday where they decided to cease all activities.

It is rumoured that the stoppage could continue into March.

The chief executive officer of the RA, Conrad Lutombi, denied that work on that part of the road had stopped.

Lutombi, who is still on leave and will be back in office today, said he had phoned the contractors to find out what was happening. He said the contractors informed him that work was continuing.

Lutombi said contractors had been paid for November and December last year but he admitted that there were outstanding payments that were due in January, which he said would be sorted out as soon as possible.

He said contractors had given notice on 12 January that there were outstanding amounts, but none of the companies could contractually cease working since they would have to give 21 days' notice of any suspension.

Angry subcontractors, however, complained about late payments, saying that they would have to demand government guarantees before concluding future contracts.

“The Roads Authority must be open and honest with contractors who have to pay salaries and suppliers. The work was suspended because we are waiting for someone from the RA whom we can trust that the money will be forthcoming,” one of the contractors

said.

Another said: “How can you grow the economy if you kill small firms because you simply do not pay them on time? The situation is getting worse; we are not given the facts.”

Lutombi denied that there was a shortage of funding, emphasising that the project was partially funded by the German development bank KfW and the Namibian government.

Last November the RA said that work on this portion of the road was progressing well.

CATHERINE SASMAN

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