Unstable exchange rates inflated airport tender – AFECC

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Windhoek

Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Corporation (AFECC) that clinched the aborted N$7 billion tender to expand the international airport near Windhoek says its initial quote was N$4 billion but currency fluctuations inflated the cost.

Turkish construction giant Tasyapi quoted US$200 million about N$3 billion and felt it was unfairly not given the lucrative airport tender that went to AFECC before government cancelled it at the height of the festive season.

AFECC’s initial bid to upgrade and expand the Hosea Kutako International Airport following an open tender inviting local and international bidders was US$366 million equivalent to N$4,04 billion in 2014 at the time tenders closed.

But due to external economic factors caused by the fall in commodity prices the South African Rand to which the Namibian dollar is linked had weakened to a record N$15 to the greenback in 2015 inflating the airport tender to N$7 billion.

AFECC says its quote to upgrade and expand the Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA) remains US$366 million but it has no control over the currency fluctuations that resulted in local legal tender erode against the greenback.

The Vice President and CEO of AFECC for Africa Region, Wang Hao has dismissed as “lies” “false” and “confusing” with regard to a series of reports in The Namibian newspaper claiming the airport tender was inflated so that AFECC could corruptly pay hefty kickbacks of up to N$500 million to unnamed officials.

Wang says AFECC outbid a host of 20 other local and international competitors simply because it presented an impressive, futuristic airport design that also won accolades at the International Aviation Forum in Canada where its Namibian design was highly praised” by aviation aficionados.

Contrary to the news reports insinuating underhand dealings and the involvement of “middlemen” the AFECC top executive stressed, “this is totally a lie. We already made a declaration to the Namibian government and it is not necessary for us to have middlemen those were rumours by The Namibian.”

“For those lies and slander which caused damage to our international reputation and caused economic loss to AFECC we are going to take legal action against The Namibian newspaper,” revealed Wang who did not go into detail.

Contacted for comment the Editor-in-Chief of the Namibian newspaper Tangeni Amupadhi said they checked their facts before running the story however he said they are still waiting for AFECC to give them its side of the story.

“Look we have given them more than enough opportunity to hear their side of the story. Look we have reported on the information that we checked,” said Amupadhi who on the planned legal action said, “We have been in such a situation before.”

Meanwhile, Wang said contrary to one of the news reports that said the contract was signed by AFECC and the Namibian Airports Company (NAC) without the Attorney-General (AG)’s input, Wang dismissed this as false saying, “we haven’t completed the signing of the airport upgrade and expansion contract.”

AFECC and its client NAC are currently negotiating a draft contract that will then be sent to the AG’s office who would have the final say had the contract not been terminated by President Hage Geingob who wants the tender to re-run.

“We feel the whole tender exercise was open, it was transparent, it was legal and it was reasonable. Out company is confused for this cancellation by the Namibian government,” the AFECC vice president explained in an interview on Saturday.

Wang whose multinational is listed among the 225 biggest contractors by Engineering News Record (ENR) with its footprints in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe and Oceania where it has varied interests in infrastructure projects, mining, real estate, hotels and supermarkets is upbeat if AFECC wins the tender he is certain the new airport “will be the pride of the Namibian people.”

Had the tender not been cancelled AFECC would have constructed a new 27 000-square metre parking lot, new double-story passenger terminal, a 50-metre air traffic control tower, a new 4532-metre runway to handle the biggest aircraft the wide-bodied Airbus 380, a new cargo warehouse and a new airport apron.

The new upgrade would have seen the airport boosting its capacity three-hold to handle up to 3 million passengers annually from the current one million.

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