Namibia: N$84m Road Tenders Challenged

THE Roads Authority has been challenged over the awarding of multiple tenders for gravel roads, that are worth over N$84 million, to certain companies allegedly through dubious means.

The tenders concerned are for the construction of gravel access roads in Omusati and Ohangwena regions.

Documents seen by The Namibian show that one of the three tenders under scrutiny was awarded to a company called Eponga Trading CC to construct an access road in Omusati region worth N$25,9 million.

A company called Moza Investments CC was awarded a N$29,2 million tender to build a gravel road in Ohangwena region.

Another company - Odjove Trading and Construction CC - got a tender to construct an access road in Ohangwena region worth N$28,4 million.

Road Authority chief executive officer Conrad Lutombi confirmed this week that these tenders were being scrutinised by a review panel appointed by the finance ministry after a complaint was lodged against the awarding of the contracts. The complaints come at a time when allegations of corruption and favouritism with regard to the process followed to award these tenders have surfaced on social media, implicating certain RA employees.

The allegations are contained in a letter allegedly written by a concerned engineer in the Roads Authority which also suggested that the national road contractor have been overcharged by about N$20 million for the three tenders for work that could be completed for less than N$64 million.

A certain Lazarus Kunugab - a senior engineer at Roads Authority - has also been accused of tempering with tender documents of some companies to influence the bidding process.

According to the letter, a number of RA employees are set to benefit from these tenders through kickbacks for facilitating the alleged dubious process.

Lutombi in a media statement issued on Tuesday said the case lodged by unsuccessful bidders was heard last week Friday.

He added that the Roads Authority would now wait for the outcome of the review panel before entering contracts with the three companies that were awarded the tenders.

Lutombi, however, denied that the process was being questioned because of alleged corruption and favouritism, saying the tenders were awarded through a "fair, ethical, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective manner, in full compliance with the Public Procurement Act, and exemption as was granted by the finance ministry".

He added that the company was also granted an exemption by the finance ministry to award the tenders in question without following normal tender processes as prescribed by the Procurement Act.

"These tenders were subject to strict scrutiny and consideration of KfW (Kreditanstalt für wiederaufbau) Germany as co-financier. Thus, RA would like to put it on record that the claims made in that particular message and the defamation against Mr Lazarus Kunugab are malicious and devoid of any truth," Lutombi said in the statement.

He further said all bid documents received are being kept in a secured place with no opportunity for interference from third parties.

"We would like to reiterate that the RA adheres to the policy and legislative framework which the government has introduced to redress the disadvantaged social and economic position," Lutombi said.

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