The Ministry of Works and Transport said it has awarded two construction projects to beleaguered state roads contractor, Roads Contractor Company, in an attempt to ease the company’s financial woes.
Ministry Spokesperson Julius Ngweda said an executive decision was made for them to assist the struggling government entity, hence the “special treatment” in handing over the construction of the Onderombapa road in Gobabis and the construction of another road in Erongo region, on the Henties Bay-Uis-Kamanjab road.
“They were supposed to have completed the roads. Construction is still ongoing. They should answer as to why they haven’t completed the projects. These works were given to them on a special treatment. The RCC should answer as to how far they are and what percentage of work they have completed. This is public information,” Ngweda said.
Maria Nakale, the Acting CEO of RCC confirmed that the projects are ongoing, although she could not say when exactly they started.
A checkered past.
It was reported that in 2021, the RCC was evicted from its place of business after failing to pay N$6.1 million in rent for its former building, which it now rents from the Namibia Post and Telecommunications Holdings. The company’s head office at the time was used as collateral for a loan the company took from Bank Windhoek, got attached by the bank in 2018, but NPTH stepped in, paying N$190 million to rescue the property and prevent it from being repossessed.
The building was then rented back to the RCC, which has allegedly failed to make a single rental payment.
The government also made a u-turn on its initial plan to liquidate or place the RCC under judicial management.
“The Ministry of Public Enterprises is not pursuing the liquidation or judicial management of the RCC but rather attempting to rescue the company in an appropriate manner. We have requested them to prepare a feasible business plan as a matter of urgency and we will be submitting that to Cabinet via the relevant committee for approval. In the meantime, we have also submitted a request for budgetary provision to remunerate the employees in the interim.” Public Enterprises Minister at the time, Leon Jooste said.
Nakale on her part says she cannot comment on the liquidation issue.
“I cannot really express an opinion on the liquidation calls but I am not sure why people think the RCC should be liquidated. Yes we have challenges, the economy is down and many corporates are struggling, who isn’t struggling financially? She remarked.
Last year, the Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters demanded that Nakale resigns from her position as she already holds an executive position at the Retirement Funds Institute of Namibia.
NEFF labeled her a greedy Individual and claimed that she was receiving two salaries.
Nakale in an interview with this publication said that she does not understand why people are bothered by the contracts she has.
“All I know is that I don’t receive two salaries and I know newspapers thrive on character assassination. I think they just wanted to sell their paper at the time,” Nakale said.
Meanwhile, the Chairperson of the Board of RCC, Eliaser Nekwaya said he would only respond to questions by the end of the week.
Nekwaya is expected to respond on the company’s monthly wage bill, its outstanding debt and whether or not the RCC is making profit.
Reports are that the former board presented government with a rescue plan that would avail the company N$570 million in the form of a loan from Chinese company Nantong Sanjian.
The Windhoek Observer is reliably informed that the RCC currently employs approximately 500 employees and the company has 53 sites nationwide which costs the company millions annually, in rentals, rates and taxes. Government spends roughly N$ 20 million on RCC per annum.
Meanwhile, public policy analyst Marius Kudumo in an interview with the Windhoek observer said that given the fact the RCC is a government entity, It is up to the government to ensure that the issue of workers’ wages not being paid while working is fully addressed as per their contractual agreements.
“There must be contractual agreements between RCC and its workers and according to the labour law, the employer is supposed to adhere to such laws and should the employees feel that the employer is not living up to these laws, it is within their right to take the matter to the labour court”,Kudumo said, responding to queries concerning the parastatal’s employees receiving salaries despite not having work to do.
“The government obviously introduced the entity for a reason and if it is no longer serving the purpose which it was intended for, its modality must be changed to better serve the government or be liquidated. The government cannot afford to have entities that are not active and continue to use the government’s funds when such funds can be redirected elsewhere,” Kudumo said.