Eveline de Klerk
Afrina Property Developer is in limbo after the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development could not pay N$1.7 million for 133 mass houses the firm rebuilt at Swakopmund after the previous contractor ditched the housing project midstream.
The company has only received one payment of about N$1.2 million from the ministry since it took over the project from the Delta Group from March 2017 after a cession agreement was signed between the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development and Delta.
In accordance with the cession agreement, Delta ceded all its rights and interests to Afrina and the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development is contractually obliged make all payments to Afrina.
A year ago, at least 90 of the houses built by the Delta Group were found unfit for human habitation by the Ministry of Works and Transport and some building inspectors from Swakopmund.
Hence, the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development approached Afrina to take over the construction of the houses last year as there was still a sum of N$30 million left from the initial tender amount that was supposed to be paid to Delta. The houses were then destroyed by Afrina according to the cession agreement.
However, Afrina that has already constructed 22 of the 133 houses is struggling to receive any payment for the houses it rebuilt.
Afrina has as well been struggling to pay their creditors and keep the construction company afloat due to the non-payment from the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, whose officials have been dragging their feet since December last year.
The company faces legal action if it does not receive any payments soon from the ministry because they also have some undertakings that they cannot fulfil because of the outstanding amount.
According to Afrina, the payment certificates have been issued by the principal agent (PA) and the certificates have been in the hands of the works ministry. According to the PS of Works and Transport, the ministry has been waiting for a response from the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development regarding the so-called determination of the project. But both Delta and Afrina have never been informed of any such determination.
“We are struggling to get our money. Some site materials were also stolen. But some delaying tactics are being used. As a result, we cannot also service our loans and creditors which is very frustrating,” said Afrina.
“Even worse, over 50 employees of Afrina are suffering. The workers have also been expecting their unpaid salaries,” said its managing director, Yang Ganfu
According to information New Era has, an email was sent on January 18, 2018 once again by officials from the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development to the Ministry of Works and Transport to proceed with the long outstanding payment. But the PS of Works and Transport had waited for the position of the PS of Urban and Rural Development about the determination which, according to the PS of Works and Transport, reached the ministry in October 2017.
Afrina has questioned the rationale behind the PS of Works and Transport sticking to the determination while the ministry received the latest instruction of 2018 from the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development before it could proceed with the payment.
It also wonders why Delta was not subjected to the same condition saying such unfair practices unnecessarily bring government projects to a standstill while damaging the goodwill of the government.
Questions regarding the delayed payments have not yet been responded to by the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development.