Cabinet hunts down mass housing ‘culprits’… But probe finds no inflation of prices
Cabinet has ordered its ad-hoc committee on mass housing to ensure that culprits who might have misappropriated funds or inflated prices in the project are brought to book. The National Housing Enterprise (NHE) was initially tasked to execute the mass housing project on behalf of government but, as New Era reported last week, Cabinet has now revoked that mandate – citing unspecified irregularities. However, an investigation by quantity surveyor firm Richard Frankle & Partners into mass housing contracts for Erongo Region found that the rates were generally market related and not inflated as initially feared. Another quantity surveyor firm, Jordaan Oosthuysen Nangolo, was contracted to investigate all other mass housing contracts across the country, but its findings are yet to be released. The revocation of the NHE mandate on mass housing is understood to have been effected before investigations by the two quantity surveyor firms were completed. Officials at NHE, still pleading innocence in the alleged irregularities, argue that government should have waited for investigations to be completed. “Right now the impression created is that there were irregularities which we were responsible for, and this is damaging to our reputation as an institution. Naturally, they should have waited until investigations were done,” an official said yesterday. The companies contracted for mass housing tenders in Erongo Region are Pro Housing cc, Delta Group, Ferusa Capital, Power-Oyeno and 7 Sirs. “The rates were found to be market related in general for the rates charged by contractors in this region,” Richard Frankle & Partners found. “However, certain rates claimed in the schedule of rates are above market related rates,” the quantity surveyors continued. “The usage of these rates for variations is a noted concern as this could have been an oversight at tender adjudication.” In May this year, Urban and Rural Development Minister Sophia Shaningwa suspended the mass housing scheme. The suspension was due to failure to secure at least N$1 billion from private financiers to fund further progress of the fund. Attorney General Sakeus Shanghala has now been tasked to analyse the validity of the contracts entered between NHE and construction companies. The AG is also expected to provide an opinion on the legal and potential financial implications, and claims, that may arise from any change that may be found necessary to put the programme back on track. The Cabinet ad hoc committee has also been tasked to ensure that completed houses are allocated to intended beneficiaries. It is not clear who the beneficiaries of the completed houses will be. In the meantime, negotiations are expected to continue between the government and contractors, regarding outstanding payments to construction companies. NHE CEO Vinson Hailulu, who declined to comment on the latest developments in mass housing, is expected to leave the housing company later this month when his contract expires. Mass housing, a brainchild of former president Hifikepunye Pohamba, started on shaky ground since its launch in September 2013 – due mostly to inadequate funding. The ambitious N$45 billion scheme intends to build 185 000 houses by 2030. Namibia currently has a housing deficit of 100 000 units.
New Era Reporter
2015-08-06 10:15:48 | 4 years ago