Businesses unhappy over allegedly crooked tenders

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WINDHOEK – Some local business people in Opuwo allege the Kunene Regional Council runs a dubious money-making scheme inviting people to apply for tenders but once the council has received tenders they are “frozen”  – thereby merely drawing money from the process.

According to one source some tender documents cost in excess of N$350 but when a specific tender is cancelled, the applicants are not refunded their money.

Another source said that just two years ago, the town council advertised a tender to clean up the “sewerage stink in the town”, but after applicants applied for the tender, it was apparently extended indefinitely. The tenderers were then told the town council had no money to award the tender which could therefore not be awarded to anyone and the obligatory tender money was not refunded.

But the complainants charge that Kunene Developers, a company owned by the daughter of the Kunene Chief Regional Officer George Kamseb, was then awarded the job.

“Until today the tender has officially not been awarded to anyone but people are getting jobs to do the work (for the council),” said one of the business people at Opuwo.

Local business people allege that the same thing happened with a tender to provide security services to the regional council and the Ministry of Education and Culture.

After local business people bought tender documents, they were apparently told again that there was no money, but the council continues to use the services of Somaeb Security from Khorixas, which it has been doing for more than 15 years.

According to a source, the owner of Somaeb Security is allegedly part of a clique of business people who get all the tenders at the town.

“Where do they get money to pay that security company if they say they don’t have money?” asked one of the disgruntled businessmen.

He charged that the local council lets people apply just to rake in money.

“They must not advertise tenders if they know they do not have money. Otherwise they must give our money back,” he lashed out.

Approached for comment, the Kunene Chief Regional Officer George Kamseb said that he was not aware that a tender was given to his daughter as tenders are not awarded to individuals but to registered companies.

But he said that if she has shares in a company that received tenders, he did not understand why he must be linked to that.

“I know the rules. If I am in a situation where that might cause a conflict of interest, the general rule is to recuse myself,” he said.

He said that he was not party to the decision taken to award the tender and did not understand why people who have rights should be linked to him.

“Just because I am a chief regional officer must my family not tender?” he asked, maintaining that he does not have any influence on the tendering process nor is he the one who appoints those on the evaluation committee.

Kamseb would however not confirm nor deny whether his daughter was the owner of Kunene Developers.

He explained when tender applications are received, they are recorded and sent to the different directorates for evaluation and recommendation before they are dispatched to the tender board for final approval.

On the issue of the security services tender, he said the Ministry of Education inherited Somaeb Security from the National Tender Board before the services were decentralised,

He said that before the security company’s contract was to come to an end, the council advertised a new tender, but the bids for the tender were too high in comparison to Somaeb Security’s bid.

He said that as a result the council continued with the services of Somaeb Security at the old rate due to financial limitations.

“There was a request to stop provision of security services, but do we want to create unemployment?” he asked, saying that even if they discontinued with Somaeb Security, they were worried about the guards’ livelihood.

On the sewerage tender, Kamseb said that the Ministry of Health and Social Services was having problems with the way wastage was being disposed of in the town and it wants a proper specification to be inserted within the tender document. He said there was no proper management of contractors such as to make it compulsory within the tender document that they must take wastage to established sewerage ponds.

This, he said, led to the postponement or delay of the tender award to clean the “sewerage stink”.

 

 

 

By Magreth Nunuhe

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