In an attempt to deliver quality roads and avoid shoddy work, the Roads Authority (RA) appointed independent auditors Ernst and Young (EY) to audit its multi-million dollar national road projects, while contractors where warned they will face sanctions and may be required to pay for shoddy work.
Of late there have been a number of road contractors who reportedly either do substandard work or abandon uncompleted projects altogether.
Such practices did not sit well with Deputy Minister of Works and Transport James Sankwasa, who has warned against fly-by-night contractors who beg the RA for contracts, but do not having adequate technical capacity or the financial means to complete projects.
Sankwasa also advised against awarding tenders to contractors who submit cheaper tender bids, but who do not have the means and technical capacity or the requisite expertise.
Based on this, RA chief executive officer Conrad Lutombi said they recently appointed independent auditors Ernst and Young to audit such multi-million national projects to avoid substandard work as currently being detected countrywide.
“For us, it’s about value for money. We’ve gone an extra mile and appointed external auditors, who are auditing our capital projects to verify that we get value for money. We are going an extra mile to ensure we provide quality roads within our specifications and design standards.
“The auditors are Ernst and Young, who are appointed to audit capital projects,” he said, in response to questions from New Era on how they plan to ensure that contractors do not compromise on the quality of road infrastructure.
He said the audit is something new and would tell determine whether there was mismanagement of funds on the projects.
So far, he revealed that the auditors have assessed Phase 1 of the Windhoek-Okahandja, saying the RA received a good return on investment.
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, is currently 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 it was scheduled to be completed in 15 months. However, the contractor did not meet the set deadlines and has since July had to pay penalties amounting to N$2.4 million thus far, Lutombi said.
“We’re happy with other capital projects throughout the country. That is the extra work we’ve done to ensure we get value for money. When the project is still running, we send these auditors to go and audit the financial part and if there are technical issues, then they carry out technical auditing,” he said.
Further, he said RA has consulting engineers who are on site full time to ensure that all quality requirements are met, adding that the construction sites also have laboratories where tests are done and only once such road sections constructed pass these tests, can the engineer certify that section of road.
He explained that the engineers also send samples to the RA laboratory for crosschecking to ensure that the results are correct. “We also check if what our engineers are doing on site is correct especially with materials to avoid sub-standard work,” he said.
Sankwasa earlier gave a stern warning that those who deliver sub-standard work will be recalled to redo the work at their own cost.
“We demand high-quality work and will not accept sub-standard work. If the road works are not up to standard, we will demand that they be redone at no cost to the government. For too long government has been taken for a ride,” he warned.
Recently New Era reported that a road contractor, who allegedly abandoned work on the Oshikuku-Elim road for almost five months, infuriated Oshikuku Councillor Modestus Amutse, who is demanding that higher authorities intervene and bring the contractor to book.
Onamagongwa Trading was awarded a N$60 million tender for the construction of the Oshikuku-Elim road, but apparently left gaping potholes on the stretch of road that was supposed to be completed before it is formally handed over to government.