Govt pushes ahead with airport project


Staff Reporter

Windhoek-Government says there is enough evidence justifying the need to expand Hosea Kutako International Airport, and such plans would go ahead as soon as the new cost of the project has been determined.

The tender would this time be handled by the Central Procurement Board (CPB), Namibia Airports Company board chairman Rogers Kauta told New Era.

Kauta said the NAC does not have the money required to complete this project, and a meeting would soon take place between the company, treasury and the ministry of works to decide how to source such funding.

Some of the previous bidders had proposed to construct the airport at their own cost and lease the airport for a specific period.

“The Ministry of Finance will provide guidance in relation to the financing of the project. NAC has no financial means to fund it,” Kauta, who described the project as urgent, said.

The supreme court has in the meantime ordered the NAC to sort out its agreement with China’s Anhui Foreign Economic Group, which was awarded the tender for N$7 billion.

The Anhui matter is high on the agenda of the NAC board meeting scheduled for June 23, New Era was informed. President Hage Geingob had ordered the nullification of the tender last year after it came to light there were irregularities in the award process, which also led to the cost ballooning to N$7 billion.

The Chinese firm challenged the president’s directive in the high court and won the fight to have the directive set aside. However, the government successfully appealed the ruling in the supreme court, which ruled the awarding of the tender as of no legal force.

NAC was then ordered to engage Anhui on the matter, within the framework of the supreme court ruling.

The ministry of works told New Era last week that the project would go ahead as initially planned, but under new terms.

“That there is need to expand the current airport is not in question,” works deputy minister James Sankwasa said.

“The current airport doesn’t even have a terminal bridge. When it’s raining, passengers are exposed to rainwater. And when the tarmac is hot, they burn like they are in hell. This is not the type of treatment we want for our visitors,” he further noted.

The only other recognised airport in Windhoek, Eros, is dilapidated beyond the confines of international aviation standards.

“Eros is in a bad state, so much so that for almost a year President Hage Geingob has not used it on the advice that it’s not up to required security standards,” the deputy minister revealed.

Sankwasa said that after several major international airlines such as KLM and Qatar Airways were permitted into the Namibian market, Hosea Kutako has become constrained as a host airport.

“Currently there are no separate arrival and departure terminals. People arriving and those leaving mingle in one lounge, which by international aviation standards is not allowed as it poses security concerns,” Sankwasa said.

He assured the nation that the new tender would be issued in Namibian dollars so that the government is not exposed to currency exchange risks that could increase the initial projected cost.

“We’ll go for currency hedging,” said Sankwasa.


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