The Zambezi Regional Council is facing criticism from the public over an alleged Legislative Hall refurbishment, which the community claims is a misplaced priority and a waste of money. While in defence, the regional council says the dilapidated hall needs a facelift. However, it says the project is estimated at over N$5.88 million, excluding professional costs and not the N$7.2 million that community members have stated.
However, various community members have questioned the quality and pace of work performed on the structure. Some have stated on social media that the work performed so far does not amount to the value. The regional council concedes there have been some delays on the project but confirmed, through its public relations officer Damian Siambango, the contractor, Sisi Consultancy and Technical Services, has been paid over N$2 million while conceding.
The legislative hall is situated in the heart of Katima Mulilo and was once cherished as an executive house for its multipurpose use – from general meetings to art performances. The building was, however, left to rot – and now, the regional council has decided to revive it, saying it forms part of the town’s development.
“New floor has been cast, and all damaged and rotting walls have been replaced, while walls have been plastered. Also, electrical fixes are in. The roof structure has been reinforced and fixed, including the foyer, which has been replaced,” he said.
Furthermore, he said, all rotting timber trusses have been removed. “The finishing team will start with replacing the windows and paint the building,” he reiterated. “The construction estimated budget was N$5 883 6290 (excluding professional fees), while the construction tender amount was N$5 614 498.56 (excluding professional fees). Current expenditure to date stands at N$2 096 525.86, excluding professional fees,” explained Siambango
Siambango could, however, not say when the project is likely to be completed. “It’s difficult to determine, as the fluctuations in availability of materials are making it difficult for the contractor to finish on time,” he said.
“The contractor is not off-site; he is continuing to refurbish the building. Progress is currently slow, as the pandemic has given the contractor some cash flow issues, which he is busy sorting out,” he stressed. This is amid the widespread backlash from the community, who felt the money could have been used to establish projects that would create jobs. The community also argued the price is inflated to benefit a few.
“A public building in the heart of Katima Mulilo that was busy rotting away deserves a second chance. There were only two options available for the state the building was in. It was an eyesore to the public. Therefore, option one was to break down and do something different. Option two, to renovate. So, we decided on making a refurbishing to remember and preserve the heritage of the building,” said Siambango.