Unions call for cancellation of parastatal tender projects

Stefanus Nashama

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

The projects include the Road Authority (RA) project, NamWater projects, Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (NAMFISA) Head Office, the NamPower project for 70MWp in Rosh Pinah, and the tender awarded to August 26.

Union representatives are claiming that the exclusion of local contractors in these projects is below the interest of maintaining and further developing the Namibian construction sector.

They say the matter does not align with Namibia’s efforts to address poverty and reduce unemployment.

Expressing that the engagement of foreign contractors subverted the country’s efforts of optimal revenue collection and the flow of money in the Namibian economy.

CIF Chief Executive Officer, Bärbel Kirchner, said it is “annoying” that these developments are used by many as justification for the involvement of foreign contractors. Which to her undermines the industry and creates a perception that not all Namibian contractors are able to meet requirements.

Kirchner stressed that the construction industry is concerned by the ongoing perception of not considering local companies first.

“It is sadly a result of what can be regarded as inaction by the government to effectively address the matter,” she said.

Meanwhile, Secretary-General of MANWU, Justina Jonas, highlighted that the government has a major role in creating sustainable businesses for the Namibian construction sector.

She stressed that the government has a role to play in creating decent work in the construction sector, in as much as creating the appropriate policy environment that would allow for consistency, continuity and stability of work in the sector.

The Unions also questioned the recently advertised NamWater projects which are funded by the African Development Bank.

They claimed that for all three projects, excessive financial pre-qualifications have been set, effectively excluding all Namibian contractors.

“The financial qualifications are N$512 million (US$27 million), N$702 million (US$ 37 million), and N$ 246 million (US$13 million), respectively,” they said.

According to them, Namibian contractors were excluded from this project despite having built water-retaining structures throughout Namibia. This is also even though a Namibian contractor has supplied and commissioned the existing Ohangwena, Eenhana Water Treatment Plant at a value of N$6.6 million.

At the same time, the bid opening for the construction of the new NAMFISA head office concerns the Unions, saying only two out of eight bidders were majority Namibian-owned contractors although the financial requirements were again very steep.

They also believed the recently advertised Nampower project in the south of Namibia, which is funded by the KfW Development Bank is of such a size that again Namibian contractors are excluded from participating, even if they were to consider a joint venture.

Regarding the August 26 project, the Unions claimed the N$255 million tender for the building of classrooms and ablution facilities in several regions of the country, has excluded the private sector from participating.

They are questioning why August 26, as a government-owned company under the auspices of the Namibian Ministry of Defence Force and Veteran Affairs.

According to CIF, it appears that August 26 does not have sufficient capacity to deliver on the project.

They have since urged the government to look into the matter, calling for the cancellation and re-advertising of the tenders.

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