Tender corruption: Opinion of a pioneer builder

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After a long, satisfying and accident-free 58-year career, I believe it is time to say my piece. As a highly skilled individual, I worked on many governmental and private projects with good results, including Elizabeth Nepembe, a rehabilitation centre in Kavango – one of the few successful governmental projects that were managed by themselves after I had provided training to them.

Unfortunately, I cannot say this about the last project, the fisheries offices.

Oume Construction, which I assisted with previous governmental projects, was literally brought to its knees because of lack of additional funding.

There were too many issues from the start. Contracts were shortened and then extended. Terrain handovers in Windhoek and not at the terrain itself.  The reason? To date the terrain is not ready for handover, why?

I begged till I was blue in the face that we all come together to make this project a success.

The site agent, whom I still have great respect for, wrote to the Ministry of Works and Transport before the contract had even been set up, indicating that the contractor underestimated the cost and could not complete the project but was still awarded the tender.

I now leave it to the Namibian public to decide how such a person will handle the project, keeping in mind this letter and the success of the contractor?

The condition of the contract was that the head office would take precedence but until now fisheries is still renting premises. Can the taxpayer please be informed what is going on? At one stage payments were stopped and the contractor was forced to utilise its own resources to keep the workers’ heads above water. The contractor was asked to end the contract to allow for a new tender. Oume Construction tendered N$19 million and the successful tenderer’s quote was N$25 million.

At the end of the day, when you have dedicated 58 of your 77 years to your profession, it is disappointing to see the direction this once honourable profession is taking.  Corruption, which is considered a white-collar crime, has totally overrun this profession.

Many of us have sacrificed and worked hard to prepare for the day when independence came. We, coloured, black and white, fought hard to build this industry but are now being pushed aside.

The first contractor did not finish the job; the platforms that were completed still had water on which caused time and effort to replace because of the water damage and as a result had to be fixed repeatedly.  There was no follow-up. Why do certain people get away with murder while the honourable people have to suffer?

Johannes Strauss

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