ICT Office Tender Put On Hold

THE planned construction of a new head office for the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology has been put on hold with an order that was given in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

Judge Shafimana Ueitele ordered that the execution of the tender for the construction of a new head office for the ministry may not proceed until a case in which a North Korean-owned company and its Namibian partner are challenging the tender award has been finalised.

Judge Ueitele also directed that the parties involved in the case lodged by the Mansudae Overseas Projects and Econo Investments joint venture about three weeks ago should meet in the High Court today to plan the further course that the case should take in court. He said he foresaw hearing the case towards the end of May.

The North Korean-owned Mansudae Overseas Projects and its Namibian partner, Econo Investments, are suing the Tender Board, the permanent secretary of the National Planning Commission, the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, and a competing tenderer, Amupolo Building Construction CC, in an attempt to reverse the Tender Board’s decision to award a contract for the construction of a new office building for the information ministry to Amupolo Building Construction.

Mansudae Overseas Projects and Econo Investments are claiming that the Tender Board ignored several recommendations to choose the joint venture to build a new head office for the ministry at a cost of close to N$200 million.

The tender in question is part of government’s Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (Tipeeg).

Instead of awarding the contract to the two companies’ joint venture, which tendered to construct the building at a cost of N$172 million, the Tender Board favoured the less experienced Amupolo Building Construction, whose bid price was N$189 million, the two companies are claiming.

The managing director of Econo Investments, Rodgers Kauta, alleges in an affidavit filed with the High Court that while the joint venture’s ability to carry out the project successfully was endorsed by architects who evaluated the tenders received by the Tender Board, Amupolo Building Construction did not pass that crucial test.

Mansudae Overseas Projects has over the past decade completed several major public construction projects at a cost of hundreds of millions of Namibia dollars. These include the building of the Heroes’ Acre monument in Windhoek, the new State House complex, and the new Independence Memorial Museum, also in Windhoek.

The cost of the biggest project completed by Amupolo Building Construction, however, did not exceed N$25 million, Kauta claims in his affidavit.

Kauta also alleges that Amupolo Building Construction’s tender bid did not include a work programme, which was an essential requirement in tenderers’ bids.

The joint venture’s tender bid was disqualified because it had failed to submit a valid affirmative action compliance certificate as part of its bid, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance and chairperson of the Tender Board, Ericah Shafudah, says in an affidavit also filed at the court in answer to Kauta’s affidavit.

Shafudah says that in terms of the Affirmative Action (Employment) Act the State is forbidden from concluding a contract with any employer with more than 25 people on its payroll unless the employer is in possession of a valid affirmative action compliance certificate.

She also says that it was clearly stated in the conditions of the tender in question that all tenderers had to submit an affirmative action compliance certificate with their bids. Mansudae Overseas Projects and Econo Investments failed to comply with that tender requirement when the joint venture submitted its bid to the Tender Board, and they cannot cry foul now that their bid has been disqualified for not complying with the tender conditions, Shafudah says.

In their tender bids the joint venture said it would employ 203 people on the project, with 158 of those being new employees, while Amupolo Building Construction said it would employ 418 people on the project.

Source : The Namibian