Namibia: N$45m Power Deal Divides Procurement Board

THE Central Procurement Board has cancelled a N$45 million tender to construct a power line in southern Namibia, amid allegations of infighting within the national agency.

The Namibian understands that the tender to design and construct a 132 kilovolt transmission line between Khurub and Aussenkehr has brought conflict within the CPB, including the bid evaluation committee.

The board decided to cancel the tender, but only after two directors recused themselves because of conflict of interest.

CPB board member Jerry Muadinohamba had recused himself from the process because of his interest in one of the companies tendering.

The second member, Cronje Loftie-Eaton, had to recuse himself midway through the process after allegedly discovering that a company belonging to his brother was a subcontractor to one of the bidders.

Muadinohamba has an interest in Powerline Africa Namibia, which emerged second, according to the bid evaluation committee, while Loftie-Eaton recused himself because of his brother's involvement in Adenco Construction Namibia.

Muadinohamba referred questions to CPB chairperson Patrick Swartz, but insisted that there was nothing untoward about his recusal.

CPB deputy chairperson Lischen Ramakhutla, in a response to The Namibian on Tuesday, said everything was done above board and defended both directors, stating that it is a common governance practice for directors to recuse themselves.

"Ultimately, it is also common and best practice for directors to declare interests at the beginning of each meeting and at anytime during the deliberations," she stated.

Documents seen by The Namibian indicate that Ramakhutla had on Sunday issued a notice for the tender's cancellation.

"The cancellation is premised on the following reasons: (a) The first recommended bidder (Bidder:2 [Adenco]) did not submit proof of work experience on construction work worth N$20 million," read Ramakhutla's cancellation notice.

According to her, additionally, the same bidder did not submit externally audited or reviewed financial statements for the last three years.

"The second recommended bidder (Bidder:1[Powerline Africa]), the joint venture (JV) agreement did not comply with ITB3,5 in the bidding documents,"she added.

The Namibian has learned that the bid evaluation committee recommended Adenco Construction Namibia for the contract.

The CPB allegedly had questions because it felt the company did not have the required experience in Namibia, and that it also failed to allegedly fully comply with the bid requirements.

The bid evaluation committee allegedly refused to budge, and stood its ground. At this point, the CPB allegedly then decided to do something that is out of character, and assess Adenco Construction's subcontractors' strength.

It was allegedly at this point where Loftie-Eaton discovered that his brother's company, Element Consulting Engineers, are listed as Adenco Construction's sub-contractors. This led to Loftie-Eaton's recusal from the process.

Loftie-Eaton yesterday said he was not allowed to speak to the media regarding his CPB role.

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