WINDHOEK – Local construction industry insiders have criticized government and the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) for awarding the tender to build houses in Windhoek under the National Mass Housing Project to foreign firm, while there are numerous local companies that can do the work competently.
Sources who did not want their names mentioned, for fear of reprisals, questioned how Afrikuumbi, the Johannesburg-based construction company, which advertised its logo prominently and featured a model house at the groundbreaking ceremony last week, could be awarded the tender to build 1500 houses. “NHE and government must come clear on this matter. We have a lot of construction companies here that can build those types of houses. It’s unfair,” one source said. Approached for comment, NHE manager for corporate communications and marketing, Eric Libongani, dismissed the allegations saying that no company has been awarded any tender so far or contracted for the mass housing development. “The NHE tender panel has been hard at work in finalizing pre-qualifications that will lead to tender awards for the appointment of mass housing contractors for the first phase and this process will be completed by next week,” he said.
Libongani shot down claims that Afrikuumbi was a South African company and said it was a Namibian company in a joint venture with a South African company.
That was however in contrast to what the Chief Operations Officer (COO) of Afrikuumbi, Deon Steyn, said at the launch. He said the company is based in Johannesburg.
The NHE spokesman said regardless of the domicile of Afrikuumbi, there will be projects for which non-Namibian companies would have to be appointed, because of their experience in integrated development and the upgrading of informal settlements. “However, in such instances the non-Namibian companies would be required to partner with Namibian companies and offer them a contractual participation of at least 30 percent in the project,” he added.
Libongani said there are competent Namibians who would be considered for some of the projects of the mass housing scheme. The National Mass Housing Programme aims to build 185 000 affordable houses by the year 2030 and will be implemented in phases at a projected cost of N$45 billion. The first phase is to run for two years and targets the major towns or localities in all 14 regions during which approximate 8 800 housing units will be build, while 10 200 plots will be serviced at an estimated N$2.7 billion.
The programme is targeting middle-, low- and ultra-low income groups in terms of providing access to land and housing and is divided into sub-programmes, such as the credit-linked housing that targets middle-income groups, as well as the social or subsidized housing that caters for low- and ultra-low income groups.
Merrow Thaniseb, Deputy Director of Housing in the Ministry of Regional, Local Government and Housing, also shot down claims that Afrikuumbi was awarded the tender in a previous interview, saying that no contractor has been appointed as yet and tender are still to go out. Steyn of Afrikuumbi Construction said the company can build around 2500 units for the whole Otjomuise extension within two years on the NHE’s sales drive.
By Magreth Nunuhe