The Roads Authority yesterday claimed representatives of a local and Chinese contractor had mutually entered into an agreement with it to allow the authorities to make payments directly into an account nominated by the two parties for a road construction contract.
The local construction firm, Onamangongwa Trading Enterprises (OTE), has threatened court action against the RA if it does not immediately address issues with the manner in which the entity is making payments directly into the account of its Chinese joint venture partner.
Onamangongwa Trading Enterprises and the Chinese firm China Railway Seventh Group are currently embroiled in a dispute over the joint venture for the construction of the Windhoek - Hosea Kutako International Airport dual carriageway Phase 1. The contract is worth nearly N$800 million.
The two companies signed the agreement in November 2015, whereby Onamangongwa holds a 20% stake in the joint venture.
Onamangongwa claims the agreement makes provision that all payments due in respect of the contract are to be paid into the joint venture bank account and not into the individual two partners’ accounts.
However, the RA said it was the contractor’s responsibility through its appointed representative to provide a bank account for payment purposes.
RA CEO Conrad Lutombi in a statement said through a power of attorney, both OTE and China Railway Seventh Group (CRSG) nominated Huang Shenghua in his capacity as chief representative of CRSG as its representative to execute the contract for and on behalf of CRSG/OTE JV.
“Both parties affirmed and appended their signatures, with OTE being represented by its managing director Martyn Ipinge,” he stated.
Since then, he continued, the RA made payments via the ministry of works and finance to the account provided by Shenghua.
“As a matter of fact, the lawyer of OTE wrote a letter on 2 October 2018 that CRSG can continue to operate the bank account as provided by the representative of the JV,” he added.
Lutombi said the RA can only accept a change in banking details if such a request is motivated and submitted by the JV’s nominated representative – and as the financiers, the government also do their due diligence on the account before payment is affected.
Furthermore, the RA said, the contract was extended to include the access road (4.7km) from south of the main interchange way near Country Club to the police checkpoint on the road to Rehoboth, a section supervised by new project managers.
It was for this reason, they say, that it was necessary to request the JV to confirm the banking details.
According to Lutombi, claims made by OTE that he acted in a manner indicative of an intention to exclude OTE from activities of the agreement and project is baseless and maliciously false.