The Namibian (Windhoek)

31 January 2012

Namibia: Mutorwa Welcomes Dam Tender Delay

MINISTER of Agriculture John Mutorwa in a statement yesterday said "as a matter of principle" he believes the decision to restart the tendering process on the multi-billion Neckertal Dam tender was "correct".

"Since 16 December 2011 the Tender Board was, wrongly or rightly, marred by controversy, perceived irregularities and suspicion," wrote Mutorwa, adding that under such circumstances the process needs to be reflected upon.

He said the envisaged Neckertal Dam is a very important national which, during and after construction, will greatly contribute to the socio-economic advancement and development of Namibia in general, and the Karas Region in particular.

The Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Andrew Ndishishi, would not comment on the stand-off at last Friday's Tender Board meeting which was in favour of a reconsideration of the tender being given to Italian company Impregilo.

Ndishishi is said to have tried every trick in the book to ensure that Impregilo gets the tender ahead of once-favoured Chinese company China Henan International.

This would have meant that Government had to fork out an extra N$800 million had the tender gone to Impregilo.

Karas Governor Clinton Swartbooi yesterday expressed his dismay over the delay of the project which was initially planned to have been completed by the middle of last year.

"Any delay is too long," said Swartbooi, who is to meet with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Erica Shafudah, and other stakeholders to see how the project can be accelerated and consider the way forward on legal and practical issues arising.

But Swartbooi was adamant that the project will go ahead since Cabinet and Government have already approved the construction of the dam with a dedicated budget framework over the next three years in place.

"There is political commitment; there is no question that the dam will not happen," said Swartbooi.

While, there is political will and support for the construction of the dam, the project has come in for harsh criticism from environmentalists for a shoddy environmental impact study.

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