Namibia: Chinese Company Lands N$1b Road Project

15 November 2021

The Chinese embassy and the Chinese Project Management Enterprise in consultation with the Roads Authority awarded a N$1 billion project to construct 21 kilometres of road between Windhoek and the Hosea Kutako International Airport, to the Chinese company Zhong Mei Engineering Group.

Roads Authority (RA) head Conrad Lutombi said this phase of the construction project will be financed through a grant from China.

"As per the terms of the grant, only Namibian registered Chinese companies were shortlisted for this project," Lutombi said.

The government is expected to foot the costs of the leasing and maintenance of site camps," said Lutombi at the handover ceremony.

He said Zhong Mei was chosen after a "successful" procurement process headed by the Chinese embassy and the Chinese Project Management Enterprise (CPME) in consultation with the RA.

"We have gone through a tender process. We went out and those seven contractors were selected by the Chinese embassy and we did due diligence. We went through pre-qualification," he said.

Zhong Mei is expected to construct a dual-carriage freeway, three interchanges located at Dordabis, Sonnleiten and the airport, as well as two river bridges and drainage structures.

"The construction period is 36 months and N$120 million will be spent on Namibian contractors and small and medium-sized enterprises, and approximately 270 jobs will be created for Namibians during the construction period of this phase," Lutombi said.

The consultant on this project is VKE Namibia, which will be managed by the RA, Lutombi said.

"It will improve the flow of traffic between Windhoek and Hosea Kutako International Airport and enhance safety on busy stretches of road, which also forms part of the important Walvis Bay corridor."

Phase one of the project, funded by the government, is at 98% and covers about 10 kilometres from the Sam Nujoma Interchange (on the existing Western bypass), following an easterly alignment past the University of Namibia, the Auas Interchange and the Robert Mugabe Interchange on the eastern side, and ending near the old age home in Auasblick," Lutombi said.

Phase 2A is also currently ongoing and the overall process is at 44%.

"This section of the road continues from the old age home in Auasblick and takes an easterly direction up to the Dordabis Interchange, covering a distance of 19,5 kilometres."

Once completed, the dual carriageway will support the economy by allowing quicker and alternative movements around Windhoek to the rest of the country.

"It will also improve our links to the new SADC Gateway Port at Walvis Bay. The government, through the RA, will continue to develop and maintain corridor development routes that promote trade."

The Windhoek-Hosea Kutako International Airport road project is part of the Harambee Prosperity Plan 2, and is aligned to the fifth National Development Plan.

Last month, The Namibian reported that Zhong Mei was a beneficiary of a contract to construct the second phase of the Windhoek-to-Hosea Kutako International Airport highway for N$1,2 billion, two years ago.

In 2016, the RA awarded a N$755 million contract to Zhong Mei for the construction of the Swakopmund-Henties Bay-Uis road.

In August this year, a leaked document showed that a Chinese company's site personnel of around 42 were all Chinese nationals whose positions included a chef, human resource officer, buyer, cashier, engineers, and lab managers.

That workforce allegedly belongs to Zhong Mei Engineering.

This prompted former acting minister of works and transport Calle Schlettwein to write to Lutombi.

"This ministry has received numerous complaints of our road contractors employing mainly foreign experts in key positions on most road projects in the country, while local experts ... are ignored," Schlettwein said.

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