Construction businessman Paulo Shipoke – whose joint venture with South African partners received a government tender to construct 2034 houses at Swakopmund – says falsehoods are being deliberately spread about him in a bid to push him out of the N$800 million project.
Shipoke, who co-owns construction company Power-Oyeno Namibia with South African company Power Construction and a local partner Albert Antonius Paulus, said there are concerted efforts to dump him from the project.
This, Shipoke claims, is heightened by recent allegations that he has inflated a mass housing claim of N$17.5 million recently submitted to government for payment.
His partners claim their joint venture agreed to only claim N$10.6 million from the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, for the ministry’s suspension of mass housing work earlier in the year – but have now accused Shipoke of changing the figure to N$17.5 million without the other partners’ knowledge.
Shipoke has, however, hit back by saying the N$17.5 million was decided by independent quantity surveyors Richard Frankle and Partners, whom government appointed to inspect the site and produce a figure reflecting the work done.
Richard Frankle and Partners were appointed after Power-Oyeno and government failed to reach consensus on the actual amount to be paid.
Shipoke produced minutes of a meeting that took place on October 5, 2015, in which an initial claim of N$30.9 million by Power-Oyeno was mutually slashed to N$17.5 million after inspection at the site by the quantity surveyor.
The meeting that agreed to the N$17.5 million was chaired by advisor to the minister of urban and rural development, Gabriel Castro. Also in attendance were officials from the ministry, the office of the attorney general, National Housing Enterprise (NHE), Power-Oyeno and the quantity surveyor firm.“That figure was produced by government-appointed quantity surveyors and minutes are there to confirm this,” Shipoke told New Era.
“We initially submitted a claim of N$30 million because we felt that was the true reflection of our work, but after a day of disagreements with government officials, it was decided that an independent quantity surveyor be appointed to give us an independent figure.”
“The surveyor was appointed by government, not us. And when he came back with a N$17.5 million figure, it was mutually agreed that this is the amount that must be paid. Now my partners claim I came up with the figure while they themselves were part of the meeting that agreed on this figure,” said Shipoke.
Minutes from a Power-Oyeno meeting of shareholders held on October 19 also noted that the N$17.5 million was agreed between the company and government.
“This information is documented in official minutes, but now they are claiming they were not aware of this figure and that I concocted it without their knowledge,” Shipoke fumed.
Power Construction wrote a letter to Urban and Rural Development Minister Sophia Shaningwa on November 30, in which the company said Shipoke increased the figure from N$10.6 million to N$17.5 million without permission. “I didn’t come up with the figure. A government-appointed quantity surveyor did,” Shipoke hit back. Power Construction has now created a Namibian company, independent from Power-Oyeno, with its owners saying the new kid on the block was ready to work hand in hand with government on capital projects.
Shipoke believes the new company was created with the aim of booting his company from the mass housing project and give the South Africans a foothold in the local construction scene.