Windhoek — The hunt for a chief executive officer of Namibia Airports Company has begun, and advertisements for the position are expected to appear in newspapers within the coming two weeks. NAC is also expected to advertise next week a tender for intermediary work to alleviate current congestion at Hosea Kutako International Airport, which has thus far frustrated passengers especially during peak traffic hours.
The intermediary work is also expected to positively impact on the safety and security concerns of the airline operators, including international airline operators, who operate intercontinental flights from the airport.
During peak times the passenger congestion in the departure and arrival halls becomes unbearable, with winding queues of people. There have also been reports of security breaches, with passengers and goods boarding the planes without proper screening.
These were some of the items that the NAC board and management yesterday let be known during their meeting with the works and transport minister John Mutorwa, and in the presence of the media.
"We shall endeavour to do the intermediate work on Hosea Kutako airport because it relates to safety and security issues and that will lead to building a new terminal at Hosea Kutako that will lead to new improvement of our safety and security at our airport," said NAC board chairperson Rodger Kauta during the presentation.
The tender would be advertised next week and would be handled by the Central Procurement Board, in line with the new Public Procurement Act. It is expected to make the airport ready for the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) audit in November.
Only once all the intermediary work is done would the NAC be able to roll out the multibillion-dollar tender for the upgrading of Hosea Kutako International Airport.
Kauta stated Hosea Kutako is an important airport in the country and the board decided to focus their energy and capital spending on improving the airport. "That does not mean we shall not rehabilitate and improve other airports. That will be done, but we have down activities at other airports. We are looking at our revenue generating airport," he said.
Albertus Aochamub, who was seconded from the Office of the President where he was the president's press secretary, is currently the NAC acting CEO. Kauta yesterday said Aochamub is aware of the fact that the position in which he is acting is about to be advertised. Aochamub was also present in the meeting yesterday, together with other senior managers.
NAC has been dominating headlines amid fights for its lucrative tenders to upgrade airports across the country, where rehabilitation work is needed to lengthen the taxi runways, airport aprons, and improve safety and security. Not only are Namibia's pre-independence constructed airports old, they are also running out of the capacity required to keep up with the increase in the number of air traffic and passengers using Namibia as a gateway into the region. In 2017 Namibia recorded over 1.2 million passengers traffic and 54,027 aircraft traffic.
Kauta told Mutorwa that NAC is currently fighting legal battles with seven contracting companies, many of which are Chinese construction companies, an Egyptian middleman who supplies security equipment and a local engineering consulting firm.
Kauta said these legal matters pre-date the current board but when the current board took office it found that there were purported commitments made by the previous board. After consulting legal advisors, the new board found that the purported awards were irregular and didn't have the financial means to carry out the projects.
The fight for Hosea Kutako International Airport was the biggest of all, as the tender value had been inflated at N$7 billion when the government, on instructions from President Hage Geingob, intervened to have the tender cancelled. Government eventually won the court case through an appeal at the Supreme Court. Chinese company Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group had taken the government to court, insisting Geingob and government had no right to cancel the tender.
NAC owns eight airports - at Katima Mulilo, Rundu, Ondangwa, Lüderitz, Keetmanshoop, Walvis Bay, Eros and Hosea Kutako. However it is the international airport that generates 95 percent of revenue and handles 95 percent or more of aircraft into the country.
"Our focus shall be on Hosea Kutako International Airport for now before we move to other regional airports. We shall endeavour to increase revenue growth and managed to achieve 10 percent growth from 2016 since they were appointed as board," Kauta added.
Mutorwa advised the NAC board to remember that contrary to assertions that some SOEs such as NAC are independent of the line minister's ambit, he as a member of Cabinet has the mandate to direct, coordinate and supervise the administration of the ministry including SOEs under the ministry.