PDM questions N$255 million classroom tender

Stefanus Nashama

Popular Democratic Movement Member of Parliament, Jennifer Van Den Heever, wants the Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, Anna Nghipondoka, to explain why August 26 was awarded a N$255 million tender to build classrooms while private construction companies are collapsing due to a lack of available contracts.

While posting her questions to the minister in Parliament yesterday, Van Den Heever questioned why a state-owned company is competing with private companies who are desperate for construction tenders to survive.

Van Den Heever also tasked Nghipondoka to provide Parliament with a competitive analysis between August 26 and private companies in the construction industry regarding performance and timely completion of projects.

The opposition MP is of the view that the awarding of the tender to August 26 is an ongoing trend to unilaterally hand tenders to government companies while undermining and overlooking construction companies in the private sector.

She claimed the appointment of August 26 may be justified by the Ministry’s failure to select the right contractors in the past.

She is also concerned about the workers’ salaries, questioning if the workers would be paid according to Gazetted mandatory minimum wages.

The Parliamentarian also wants to know the number of staff August 26 Construction currently has, and when the project will commence.

According to Van Den Heever, an August 26 audited report for the Financial Year 2019/20 by the Auditor General, Junias Kandjeke, showed that there was a cross-subsidisation of salaries amounting to over N$3 million from the state, while the company and the state reportedly have no relationship.

She then questioned how the cross-subsidisation of salaries would be avoided with the current construction tender.

Minister Nghipondoka is expected to respond to the questions in the coming weeks.

Earlier this month, the Construction Industries Federation (CIF) and Metal, and Allied Workers Union of Namibia (MANWU) called for the cancellation and re-advertising of parastatal tender projects, claiming that local contractors have been excluded from the process.

In their call, the Unions pointed out that local private companies are mostly affected when the parastatals receive tenders.

They claimed that the N$255 million tender to August 26 for the building of classrooms and ablution facilities in several regions of the country, had excluded the private sector from participating in the bidding process.

According to CIF Chief Executive Officer, Bärbel Kirchner, it appears that August 26 does not have sufficient capacity to deliver on the project.

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