Works and Transport Minister Alpheus !Naruseb has become the latest high-ranking government official to clarify the cost of the envisaged new parliament building, whose planned construction has caused a huge public outcry.
He joined President Hage Geingob and National Assembly Speaker Professor Peter Katjavivi, who have also tried to assuage emotions after many Namibians outright rejected the idea of a new parliament costing N$2.2 billion, on grounds there are more important issues needing attention, such as the provision of affordable housing that requires government intervention.
While responding to questions from DTA MP Nico Smit in the National Assembly yesterday, !Naruseb cited reports in the local media that government has spent N$300 million on professional fees, stressing they are incorrect and highly misleading.
He explained that so far N$20.8 million has been received from Treasury to pay for N$3.1 million in professional fees for a feasibility study, which includes N$1.7 million for architects, N$772 000 for quantity surveyors, N$400 000 for civil and structural engineers, while mechanical and electrical engineers were paid N$170 598.
Also, from the gross amount N17. 6 million was allocated to professional fees for concept design development. This comprises N$14.6 million for architects, N$1.6 million for mechanical and electrical engineers and N$1.4 million for geotechnical engineers.
!Naruseb reiterated Katjavivi’s stance that the initial plan for the new parliament was only for National Assembly chambers, while no provision was made to include the National Council at the time.
“It should be noted that the National Council was also in the process of planning the expansion of its own august house due to the increased number of members of the council,” !Naruseb said.
“As of today, efforts are being made to amalgamate the two august houses by reviewing the feasibility studies which were presented separately thus far by the two houses,” he explained.
“To date, there is no finalised proposed design for the new parliament, since the review process of accommodation space requirements has not been finalised by technical sub-committees from both houses.”
He added that there currently “stalled master plan sketches” of how the two houses could be accommodated. There is no cost associated with the sketches yet.
According to him, the parliament building and cost associated with it are not an approved version of the parliament as envisioned by the two houses, as planning is still in progress.
!Naruseb stressed that the estimated cost of building the new parliament is yet to be confirmed and will be done only after the two houses sit and agree on defining the space required.
However, he maintained that the required accommodation space will influence the estimated cost of the new building.