1 February 2013

Namibia: Okahandja Road Tender Challenge Fails

AN ATTEMPT to stop the Roads Authority from awarding a tender for the design and management of the planned upgrading of the road between Windhoek and Okahandja has ended in failure in the High Court in Windhoek.

An urgent application in which an engineering company, Aurecon Namibia, was asking the court to order the Roads Authority (RA) not to award or implement a tender for the design, contract management and site supervision of a project to rehabilitate and upgrade the Windhoek-Okahandja road was struck from the court roll by Judge Shafimana Ueitele on Monday.

Judge Ueitele said it was his view that in the circumstances of the case before him the commercial interest of Aurecon Namibia was not of such a nature that its application had to be heard on an urgent basis. As a result, he struck the application from the roll and ordered Aurecon to pay the RA's legal costs in the matter.

Aurecon Namibia is claiming that an agreement which it concluded with the RA in November 2000 is still valid, and that the RA could not now invite bids on a new tender for the investigation, design, contract management and site supervision of a project to rehabilitate and upgrade the Windhoek-Okahandja road.

The entire project could, according to Aurecon Namibia, cost between N$429 million and N$691 million, with professional fees making up between N$31 million and N$48 million of the cost.

The Windhoek-Okahandja road is one of Namibia's busiest.

According to Aurecon, it already provided the RA with designs for the planned project, which would include the widening of the road and addition of passing lanes, before the RA decided in mid-June 2005 that it did not at that stage have enough money available to continue with the project.

Over the course of seven years since then, nothing was done under the November 2000 agreement. By September 2012, after Aurecon Namibia had written a letter to the RA to confirm the existence of the November 2000 agreement, the RA responded by informing the company that it was cancelling the agreement.

In an affidavit filed with the court, the RA is claiming that its management decided to reassess the position of the road, given the fact that the last study had been done ten years ago and that the volume of traffic on the road has increased by about 60 percent since then.

The court was also informed that Aurecon Namibia's previous designs for the project could not be found by the RA.

In terms of the 2000 agreement, the design phase, supervision and contract management of the project would have cost N$3,5 million, according to the RA - or N$9,2 million, according to Aurecon Namibia. With the new tender, the cost for that work is now expected to be around N$37 million, according to the RA.

Senior counsel Theo Frank and Sakeus Akweenda represented the RA in the case. Raymond Heathcote, SC, and Charmaine van der Westhuizen represented Aurecon Namibia.

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