In an era of spending cuts, government is penalising contractors that fail to deliver projects on contractually agreed schedules. Latest to experience the treasury whip is the contractor working on the first phase of widening the B1 road between Windhoek and Okahandja into a dual carriage freeway, Aveng-Grinaker LTA Namibia, which is paying N$20 000 daily in penalties for failing to honour deadlines.
The construction of the first phase of the road started on January 13, 2014 and was scheduled for 15 months. However, Aveng-Grinaker LTA Namibia did not meet the scheduled deadlines and has since July this year paid penalties amounting to N$2.4 million, the chief executive officer of the Roads Authority, Conrad Lutombi, told the media on Friday.
“Unfortunately they did not do as per our contract and are currently paying penalties to a tune of N$20 000 per day. And so far they paid N$2.4 million,” he revealed.
The Roads Authority is overseeing the project, while Aveng-Grinaker LTA Namibia is the appointed contractor, while the consultant is VKE Consulting Engineers. It is reported that due to obstructions faced by contractors the budget increased from the original N$239 million to N$335 million.
Lutombi nevertheless said the work is 96 percent finished and is scheduled for completion by February next year, although parts of the road that are completed early could be opened to the motoring public as early as next month.
Meanwhile, Lutombi dismissed rumours that work on the road between Okahandja and Windhoek would be suspended until March next year.
The road covers 78 kilometres and work is being done in four sections in phases. The second phase starts at Dobra River Bridge and ends at Omakunde River Bridge just before Osona. The project is 27 km. The total contract amount for the second phase is approximately N$1.08 billion.
But Lutombi admitted that work on the N$800 million new dual carriageway from Windhoek to Hosea Kutako International Airport was nearly suspended because of non-payment to contractors.
Lutombi admitted the Roads Authority did receive a notice to suspend work from the contractor but have met with the contractor to iron out payment delays.
“The notice was given and we had a meeting with the contractor – we are happy there is no suspension of that project. It will continue as planned,” he said.
“Once we receive the invoice, we have about 56 days to pay that invoice. Once those days lapse, the contractor has the right to give us a notice in terms of the contract,” he explained.
He said there were late payments to contractors, as they were approaching the mid-term budget review during August and September. He explained that since the mid-term review is completed they have started paying contractors as of next week.
Roads completed by the Roads Authority during the current financial year include the Omwanda-Omutambamawe, Onamutuku-Oshikuku and Otjinene-Okamatapati. He added that they also completed the Okahandja-Windhoek, Etomba-Omundaungilo and Amilema-Uukwiyu-uushona roads.
“Our projects are going according to plan. The insinuation that projects will be suspended, that is really not correct,” said Lutombi.
Other completed projects in this financial year include the Ruacana- Omakange road, Oshikuku-Onamutuku, Okalongo-Wakasamane, Omafo-Ongenga- Outapi, Liselo-Linyanti, Amwaanda-Omutambomawe, Oshigambo-Eenhana, Elundu-Eenhana.