Nexus Civils (Pty) Limited has halted the multi-million dollar construction of the Namalubi-Isize-Luhonono (Schuckmannsburg) road in the Zambezi Region, due to delays in payment by government running into tens of millions of dollars.
Government owes Nexus Civils N$30 million for three outstanding invoices, which led to the company halting the massive road project in the flood-prone area of Kabbe.
The project, worth N$586 million, commenced on January 12, 2015 and is expected to end mid-April 2018 should the current work stoppage not drastically affect the work schedule.
When contacted for comment yesterday, the Roads Authority (RA) chief executive officer Conrad Lutombi confirmed the delayed payments but gave the assurance that the government would pay the contractors soon.
He distanced RA from the non-payments, saying the RA simply executes work on behalf of the Ministry of Works and Transport, while government does the financing.
“Yes, there have been some delays in paying the contractor. We were supposed to pay the contractor within 28 days – that’s why he slowed down the work but he did not terminate the contract. We, as Roads Authority, manage the project but we don’t fund the project. We receive the invoices and certify them correctly and then send them to the ministry of works to pay the contractor. We are busy finalizing the payment and very soon they will be paid. But contractually they (contractors) are allowed to slow down until we pay them,” explained Lutombi.
Lutombi said he had a meeting yesterday with the permanent secretary of works and transport, Willem Goeieman, to find a solution so that the contractor can be paid as soon as possible to enable him to resume work on a full scale.
But he said the project is on track and still is expected to be completed by 2018.
“It’s a big project. We knew we’re operating in a flood-prone area … two to three days of a contractor slowing down in construction are really nothing,” he indicated.
Kabbe North Constituency Councillor Peter Mwala yesterday highlighted the importance of the road and therefore called for its speedy completion.
“The road is very important to residents of Kabbe. I am aware that the contractor has stopped a little bit due to non-payment. I intervened with government structures and they agreed that there was slow payment. They have agreed to pay the contractor. I also called Lutombi on Sunday and he agreed that there was a delay in payment. He told me they will make sure the contractor is paid,” said the Swapo Party councillor.
Further, Mwala urged the government to pay the contractor as the area gets swamped by floodwater and the rainy season is fast approaching, so there should not be any delay in completing the contract. He said once the road is completed it will serve as an exit and entry point for residents living in Kabbe’s flood-prone areas.
“This road can also link Namibia to Zambia. I hope in the near future there will be a bridge to connect Namibia to Zambia via the border post at Mwandi. This road has a lot of potential. It also leads to the Kalimbeza national rice project. It will provide access to clinics at Luhonono and Isize and also provide access to schools at Isize, Sifuha, Malindi and Luhonono,” said Mwala.
In 2014 during the signing ceremony between RA and Nexus Civils, Lutombi at the time said the road will be constructed through plant-based construction methods instead of labour-intensive construction techniques, because the road is located in the Zambezi River floodplain and high fills of more than one metre (in most sections of the road) would be constructed.
The total length of the road is 57 kilometres, of which 22km from Namalubi through Kalimbeza to Isize will be surfaced to bitumen standard; the 33km from Isize to Luhonono will be a new gravel road and the two kilometres from there to the Kalimbeza rice farm will be surfaced.
Ten small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) contractors have participated in the project in partnership with Nexus Civils, while more than 300 temporary jobs were created for local people.
The contracted SMEs are Oshikoto Road Services, Mbango Construction, Lirissa Investment, Dhipah Trading, Omupondo Construction, Shipiki Multi Enterprises, Flame Investment, Amakalu Construction, RN Mavenjono and Epatululo Trading.
The combined value of the SMEs’ portion of the project is estimated at N$120 million of the contract value.
The SME contractors are responsible for the construction of all the concrete works.
Nexus Civils have constructed a number of roads in partnership with other local companies in the country, such as the Karibib-Okahandja road among other major projects.
Paul Blazek, the Nexus Civils site agent, refused to comment on the issue.