Ongwediva-There is mounting tension between Oniipa Town Council and Oshikoto Regional Council over a multimillion-dollar tender to construct an office block for the newly proclaimed town council.
The regional council is being accused of having approved the construction of a N$92 million building, while the council has only budgeted N$13 million for it.
What irks officials of the town council is the fact that the size of the infrastructure being advocated for by the regional council makes provision for 104 office units, while the council only has 16 staff members and once fully fledged will need to accommodate no more than 25 staff members altogether.
The regional council also stands accused of handpicking the architect who worked on the N$92 million design.
The allegations are that procurement procedures were tampered with, as only two companies had bid for the tender, for which the architect was reportedly “handpicked”.
Oniipa Mayor Mannetjies Kambonde confirmed to New Era that the town council had refused to sign off on the construction of the N$92 million structure.
He said council resolved with the architect at a recent meeting to construct an office block sufficient for its staff for between N$15 million and N$30 million, as per the bill of quantities.
“It’s true that I have refused to approve the proposed plan, but I have better things to do than play the blame-game of who is supposed to have done what and when,” Kambonde said.
Chief regional officer Frans Enkali disputed the allegations, saying the regional council was not pushing to inflate the tender price.
“We handed that project to them a long time ago. That thing is out of our hands. We are not even concerned about anything. They can build an office, either for N$13 million or N$2 million. It’s their baby, let them build.”
Enkali said the specifications of the Oniipa drawings were adopted from two other neighbouring towns, because the council had failed to give the architects specifications for over a year. He said the initial drawings were submitted to the council to make recommendations and they had ample time to advise the council accordingly on the specifications required so as to remain within the cost structure, but failed to do so.
“In fact, where did they get the N$13 million, because you cannot just say you are building an office for N$13 million? The bill of quantities should tell how much the construction was going to cost.”
Enkali further said the price of the designed structure was determined by the bill of quantities, saying it was right for the architect to charge for work done. New Era understands that N$4 million was paid for that purpose.
“He had to charge for the work done and that mistake is lying squarely with Oniipa. Why do they want to blame people for their own failures?”
Oniipa CEO Junias Jakob said construction of the office was a complex matter and that there were a number of things that council needed to resolve first, including its location. As matters stand, the currently availed space is not strategically located for residents, especially as the premises are located in an area envisaged for industrial development.
“It is very complicated. At this point in time we’re not going to devote our effort to that, because it is not going to add any value compared to the pressing needs, which require funding and council’s attention,” Jakob said.