Admin blunders delay stadium upgrade 

The rehabilitation of the Independence Stadium has been hit by another admin issue. Photo: Sheefeni Nikodemus 

A flawed procurement process is to blame for renovations to Independence Stadium in Windhoek not starting, says executive director of sport, youth and national service Erastus Haitengela.

This comes after two potential bidders have challenged the bidding process, flagging errors in the procurement procedure, he says.

The refurbishment of the stadium is crucial to ending nearly five years of exile for national football teams, which have been barred from hosting matches at substandard facilities on home soil.

Namibia hosts most of its international home matches in neighbouring South Africa, since the Confederation of African Football (CAF) deregistered the country’s dilapidated and outdated stadiums.

Speaking to Desert Radio this week, Haitengela acknowledged that an error on the ministry’s end is holding up the stadium’s rehabilitation.

“We thought we had done our job properly, but we got challenged by two bidders who felt that some of the items were not correct,” he said.

“They took us to the review panel, and the review panel called us, saying indeed some of what we have done were not in line with the procurement process,” he said.

“We were sent back to the drawing board. We are currently trying to finalise the same procurement process again. I hope this time around we manage to tie all the loose ends for the bidding process to start,” he said.

Haitengela conceded that the process, which has now been challenged for a third time, is tedious and complicated.

The senior government official said the procurement process was called off and the ministry was redrafting documentation.

“Hopefully, this time around we will not be sitting with some challenges . . . I cannot tell you when the actual renovation process will start,” he said.

The stadium’s revamp costs are projected to rise above N$1 billion, and as such many companies have shown interest in taking on the job.

At present, the ministry has an N$80-million budget, but hopes that upon review it could obtain more funding from the state’s coffers.

“The project will be above N$1 billion if we get it right,” Haitangela said.

When renovations start, the government wants the right companies for the job, he said.

“CAF regulations are giving us a headache as it is very prescriptive. We want the level-three categorisation, and that requires a lot of work,” he said.

“We have to make sure renovations comply with the Confederation of African Football requirements, or else our boys will continue playing their home international matches in South Africa, and that will be very unfortunate.”

Haitengela said having the Brave Warriors play in South Africa is very costly, thus the ministry hopes to start renovations with multiple contractors as soon as possible.

Following the latest round of Fifa World Cup qualifiers, Brave Warriors head coach Collin Benjamin said playing home matches abroad was “abnormal”, and that the continued absence of Namibians at the team’s matches puts them at a disadvantage against their rivals.

“They have to be pushed by the people, they have to be pushed by the crowd, and that’s how they excel.

“That’s why the top players, when they leave this colosseum, feel like they have lost something. I’m not going to talk it away and say it’s normal – it’s abnormal,” he said.

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