Ghost Town Complex Cost Doubles

A TOURISM and general business complex being built at Kalkfeld, viewed as the middle of nowhere, is not only seven months behind schedule but its cost has mysteriously doubled to N$28 million.

The complex at this settlement of about 5 000 people is being set up by the Namibia Development Corporation (NDC), a parastatal that is still marred by the controversy of the disappearance of N$100 million about 10 years ago.

Aimed at Kalkfeld tourism, the project is being built by Goro Investments owned by Gottlieb Namunjekwa.

Kalkfeld is 60km north of Omaruru and 60km south of Otjiwarongo.

The Namibian visited the project this week and it became clear that a lot of work still has to be done before completion.

Paving and the roof are not complete. The only part of the project that is almost complete, is the service station where markings clearly show that it will be owned by Shell.

NDC’s head of industrial and entrepreneurship development, Koos van Staden, confirmed the delay and the high cost yesterday but attributed it to unforeseen additions to the project.

Van Staden also confirmed that there was frustration with the way the project is dragging on since the tenants want to move in because they have already signed contracts. The tenants expected to have their businesses operational last month already.

He, however, said that no one is to blame for the delay of the project because NDC had to take on extra costs and additions.

According to Van Staden, the project cost went up to N$23,3 million and not N$28, million although the estimate was N$27 million.

He also said in addition to the initial N$14 million, N$2,9 million was

added to build a fuel service station to the tenant’s specifications and industry standards.

Van Staden said, N$3 million was spent on redesigning and making changes to the specifications suggested by the tenants of the restaurant, the supermarket and the service station.

These changes also mean new material, he said.

He pointed out that an additional N$3,3 million was used for support facilities such as a sewerage system, water tank and backup power generator, which they had not anticipated.

All these additions, Van Staden said, were forced on them because Kalkfeld’s services were not reliable.

Namunjekwa also confirmed that NDC bought material for the project but said it was for a nominal fee of less than N$1 million.

NDC head of corporate affairs, Wessel Nanuseb, said the project is meant to attract investment to the isolated settlement that is surrounded by farms, and that travellers, truckers and tourists who drive through, need a stopover.

He said the development has seen people from Kalkfeld moving back into businesses such as the new restaurant. All this, he said, will create jobs.

Sources, however, told The Namibian that after the contractor Goro Investments failed to meet the deadline, NDC threatened to cancel the contract but did not do so.

NDC sources said the company is now paying for material and wages so that Goro Investments can complete the project.

Although Van Staden denied that NDC paid wages on behalf of Goro Investments, he confirmed that they bought building materials on one occasion and deducted the money from the contractor’s dues.

He said this was an exception rather than a rule because NDC sometimes helps emerging contractors and Goro Investment falls into that category.

Namunjekwa denied that NDC paid his workers’ wages.

Source : The Namibian