Just as Conrad Lutombi’s shift from CEO of the Roads Authority (RA) to CEO of the City of Windhoek was confirmed, Namibia’s road construction sector was dealt yet another blow. This is despite efforts of the Construction Industries Federation of Namibia (CIF) to have the prequalification criteria for contractors altered on the TR7/1 project for the rehabilitation of the 30-kilometre road between Karibib and Usakos.
The CIF yesterday bemoaned the fact that there was no inclination from the Roads Authority, under the leadership of Lutombi, to change the criteria of the project to be financed by a loan through the German government through its development bank called Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW).
“The result of the decision taken jointly between the Roads Authority and the KfW is that Namibian contractors are once again excluded due to unrealistic technical and financial prequalification requirements. The consequence is that predominantly foreign companies can participate, and only those Namibian companies that have a joint venture arrangement with a foreign company. Joint ventures between Namibian companies would not suffice either,” read a statement from the CIF.
The CIF stated that it wrote to Lutombi at the RA as the responsible entity for the prequalification process on 12 October and requested the project’s submission date to be extended. The CIF also requested a meeting to raise their concerns about the prequalification criteria. “The submission date was then changed to 10 November 2022, however, an audience with the authority was only granted on 7 November 2022. Thus, if indeed, any changes to the prequalification criteria would have been made, there would not have been sufficient time for local contractors to make their submissions. The CIF, therefore, requested another extension of the submission date to the end of January 2023, which would have allowed sufficient time to review requirements and for inclusive bidding to take place. The Roads Authority then informed contractors that the date was extended to 20 January 2023,” read the CIF statement.
However, the CIF noted that during a meeting on 15 November 2022 to review the requirements with the Roads Authority, it was shocked to be informed that a decision was taken and that the submission date would be moved to an earlier date, namely to 24 November 2022. This again resulted in a predicament that even if the prequalification criteria were to have been changed, there would not have been sufficient time for local contractors to submit a bid by the
Bärbel Kirchner, chief executive officer of the CIF said: “Frankly, we are disappointed and furious. In the end, we as taxpayers have to pay off the loan. Yet, our Namibian contractors cannot participate. And we are not talking about the highway to Mars. A simple rehabilitation of the road between Usakos and Karibib is involved. Local contractors have more than adequate capacity to do the job.”
“In terms of the financial pre-qualification requirements, they are also so steep, that Namibian contractors cannot participate, especially taking into consideration the recessionary environment in which we operated over the last seven years,” Kirchner added.
Moreover, the CIF pointed out that even though the KfW is providing a loan and not a grant, Namibian taxpayers have to service this loan.
“We are seriously disappointed that this is still happening, even though we have engaged not only the Roads Authority but also our central government. How is this possible in this day and age when our economy is practically in shambles? We are fighting to create jobs and to ensure that we and our employees have food on our tables,” Kirchner lamented.