Omaheke Houses Crumble

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By Kuvee Kangueehi

Windhoek

The Omaheke Regional Council will have to fork out an extra N$2,8 million to complete the Build Together Housing project, which came to a standstill after the constructor who was awarded N$ 3,5 million, ran out of funds despite being paid the money in advance.

According to a report prepared by the Director of Planning in the Omaheke Regional Council, Pederius Tjihoreko, regarding the disastrous housing project, council has to divert funds intended for other projects to rescue the situation.

WhyTjihoreko’s report want money diverted from other projects to the Build Together Housing scheme instead of seeking to recover money given to the contractor on the basis of breach of contract is a mystery although not totally surprising.

Aminuis Houses to be Demolished
The report, which was described as shocking by a regional councillor, also reveals that a total of 34 houses which were built at Aminuis will have to be demolished as materials used are sub-standard and the houses could collapse, thus posing a danger to occupants.

The report indicates poor concrete, sand and bricks were found on site.
The razing of the houses would mean that all the materials used as well as the labour goes down the drain and beneficiaries will have to wait longer to get houses. The question being asked is why was the contractor paid if no inspection was conducted to verify whether tender specifications were met and by whose authority.

Tjihoreko Issued Cheque
The report also indicates that Isack De Beer, the contractor, was always paid when the Omaheke Regional Council Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Balbina Pienaar, was on leave. On June 30, last year, Tjihoreko, who was acting CEO issued a cheque of N$1 million while Pienaar was on leave.

Coincidentally, again on the November 22, last year, the second payment to De Beer of N$1,2 million was made while Pienaar was on leave and Tjihoreko was acting. The payment was made despite a complaint by a regional councillor that all the houses constructed at Corridor 13 had collapsed.

Legal Action
The report recommends that due to the urgency of the matter a private lawyer be engaged to assist the regional council take legal steps against De Beer. The report states that De Beer clearly failed to honour his contractual obligations and the council should institute legal proceedings without delay. Some regional councillors have advised the council not to use other funds from the council, but to legally force De Beer to fund the completion of the houses.

Council Protecting
De Beer
A regional councillor who spoke on condition of anonymity said the regional council has always given preferential treatment to De Beer and did not follow procedures when awarding him tenders. This is the main reason why the project failed. He said the council hastily paid out money to De Beer without looking at the quality of his work.

He noted that the council is now looking at releasing other funds to ‘clean up the mess by De Beer’ instead of taking action against De Beer to recover their money. The councillor noted De Beer had an arrogant attitude at council meetings and was not remorseful for failing to honour the contract. He added that some of the minutes of previous meetings are being changed (doctored) to protect De Beer.

Background
De Beer, who was granted a tender of N$3,4 million in 2006, was expected to complete the project almost three months ago. In terms of the contract agreement, which was signed by Pienaar on behalf of the Omaheke Regional Council and De Beer, the latter was expected to construct 172 houses at Aminuis, Corridor 13, Tallismanus, Epukiro Post 3 and Otjinene.

Questions were raised earlier as to why the council paid over N$2,9 million before the attainment of the second phase of the project. According to the contract, De Beer was to receive N$1,3 million at the commencement of the project as initial capital to enable him to build the houses up to window level.

The Build Together Project came into being during the 1992/1993 financial year. The ministry allocated maximum loans of N$40???_?_’???_?’???_???

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