Govt’s abandoned projects

FIDDLING WHILE ROME BURNS … Around 890 houses completed under the government’s mass housing programme have still not been handed over to beneficiaries eight years after president Hage Geingob stopped the housing project. This is despite Windhoek’s continuing housing shortage and expanding informal settlements, such as Havana (in the photo).

A report by the Ministry of Works and Transport has revealed that poor contract management, cash-flow problems and a lack of technical capacity from contractors are among the reasons why more than 43 government capital projects have been abandoned.

The report, compiled in 2020 and obtained by The Namibian, found that projects worth N$990 million have been abandoned, some of which were deserted after contractors received their first payment.

Minister of works and transport John Mutorwa has defended the government and laid the blame on contractors.

“Capital projects are not put on hold by the government, but (are) not completed on time, mainly by contractors,” he said in a written response to The Namibian.

According to the report, most of the abandoned projects were critical initiatives located mostly in the poor regions.

HEALTH

The renovation of the Keetmanshoop hospital was halted in July 2016 because the contractor involved allegedly lacked the technical expertise and was experiencing financial problems. The project was valued at N$23 million.

Minister of health and social services Kalumbi Shangula says a new contractor was appointed for the completion of Keetmans­hoop Hospital’s tuberculosis ward.

He says the site was handed over to a new contractor on 26 April 2022.

“Specialist installation was awarded to specialist service providers. The completion of the project is anticipated for the end of July. The physical progress is at 82%,” he says.

The construction of Shamaturu Clinic in the Kavango East region at a cost of N$13 million was also abandoned due to the involved contractor’s cash-flow problems, the report states.

Shangula says a new contractor was appointed to complete the project.

“The site was handed over on 9 June 2022, and completion is anticipated towards the end of this month. Physical progress is at 72%,” he says.
In 2019, a contractor abandoned the upgrading of the Schlip clinic in the Hardap region, because he owed subcontractors money.
The project cost N$1,2 million.

According to the health ministry, it commenced the process of termination of the contract in 2019 due to the contractor’s non-performance.
There was a disagreement with the contractor, which was resolved through mediation.

“The arbitration process was concluded on 19 April this year. The ministry has henceforth put out a bid invitation for … a new contractor,” Shangula says.

The construction of a new clinic and staff accommodation for the health ministry at Onanghulo in the Ohangwena region at a cost of N$9 million was abandoned in 2019 due to the contractor’s inadequate technical capacity and cash-flow issues, the report says.

According to the health ministry, the contract for the construction of a new clinic, staff accommodation, and related services commenced on 1 September 2016 and was terminated in 2022.

“The physical progress at termination was 59%. The ministry advertised the tender, which closed on 22 May this year. The process is at the evaluation stage,” the minister says.

Shangula says the incomplete projects have had a negative impact on members of the public in need of healthcare and has pushed them to travel far for these services.

He says the delayed implementation of projects results in the underspending of the ministry’s budget, and that the unspent funds cannot be used to develop other planned facilities.

AGRICULTURE

The construction of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform’s offices and staff accommodation at Omundaungilo in the Ohangwena region was abandoned in 2015 due to the contractor’s failure to address defective work after practical completion, the report states.

The project required at least N$350 000 to complete.

The construction of veterinary staff accommodation at Ndiyona village and Ncaute village in the Kavango East region, as well as the construction of a veterinary clinic, offices, and staff accommodation at Okahao, were both abandoned due to the government’s delay in paying contractors.

The Ndiyona project required at least N$1,4 million to complete, the Ncaute project required N$2,8 million, and the Okahao project N$11 million.

At Ondangwa, the construction of a state veterinary clinic and laboratories for the agriculture ministry was abandoned in 2017 due to inadequate technical capacity and the contractor’s cash-flow problems.

At least N$68 million is needed to complete the project.
Agriculture ministry spokesperson Jona Musheko says the ministry is working to complete all projects as soon as possible.
He says the projects were initiated because providing farmers with quality services is essential.

EDUCATION

The construction of the Ohangwena Education Directorate at Eenhana was abandoned in 2019. It needed N$52 million to be completed.

The project was abandoned due to the contractor’s inadequate technical capacity. The contractor’s service was formally terminated on 24 April.

The building of new hostels nationwide and at Schuckmannsburg for the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture in the Zambezi region was abandoned in 2019.

N$68 million was required to complete this project, which was abandoned due to the contractor’s inadequate technical capacity, the report states.

The inadequate technical capacity and cash-flow issues of the contractor for the construction and upgrading of the lower court at Katima Mulilo at a cost of N$3,9 million led to this project’s abandonment too.

HOUSING

The report further states that a project to construct 326 houses at a cost of N$45 million in Windhoek was abandoned in 2017.

The project could not proceed because the land was serviced only for single houses and was later densified to multi-storey apartments.

The Ministry of Urban and Rural Development says the country has an estimated housing backlog of around 300 000 units, of which 84 000 units are needed in Windhoek.

“The services have to be redesigned to fit what is built on site and approval of the design of the City of Windhoek based on new township planning,” the report states.

Executive director of works and transport Esther Kaapanda says her ministry is no longer the custodian of the government’s capital projects.

“The procurement of works for the execution of government capital projects have been placed in the custody of the respective line ministries,” she says.

Information from the works ministry indicates that contracts for at least 153 government capital projects were awarded between 2012 and 2014.

Out of these projects only 54 were reportedly successfully completed between 2016 and 2019.

//Kharas Regional Council chairperson Joseph Isaacks says the government’s lack of accountability on these projects has contributed to the extreme poverty in the south.

“Most of the decisions regarding the projects located this side are made in Windhoek. We have no control over [them].

“We need supervisors (at local authorities) who could measure the project and prevent these kinds of issues,” he says.

Isaacks says the trend of not involving councillors in decision-making has led to the squandering of state resources through these abandoned projects.

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