Info Head Office Tender Award Set Aside

THE Tender Board of Namibia must reconsider the tender for the construction of a new head office for the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, High Court Judge Shafimana Ueitele ordered on Friday.

Judge Ueitele referred the tender back to the Tender Board after setting aside the board’s decision to award the contract to build the new ministry head office to a close corporation, Amupolo Building Construction CC. The close corporation had offered to construct the building at a cost of N$189 million.

The tender bid of Amupolo Building Construction CC should not be among the bids that will be reconsidered by the Tender Board, Judge Ueitele also ordered. That part of his order was based on a concession by Amupolo Building Construction that it was not entitled to the contract that had been awarded to it, since its tender bid did not include the valid affirmative action compliance certificate required by the Tender Board.

The award of the tender to Amupolo Building Construction CC was challenged by a North Korean-owned construction company, Mansudae Overseas Projects Architectural and Technical Services, and its Namibian joint venture partner, Econo Investments, whose tender bid was not accepted by the Tender Board.

The joint venture’s tender price of N$172 million was the lowest of the bids received by the Tender Board.

In their legal challenge of the Tender Board’s decision to award the contract to Amupolo Building Construction, Mansudae Overseas Projects and Econo Investments claimed that the Tender Board ignored several recommendations to choose the joint venture to build a new head office for the ministry.

The managing director of Econo Investments, Rodgers Kauta, alleged in an affidavit filed with the High Court that while the joint venture’s ability to complete the project successfully was endorsed by architects who evaluated the tender bids 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 claimed in his affidavit.

In another affidavit filed at the High Court, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance and chairperson of the Tender Board, Ericah Shafudah, said 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.

In a further affidavit, the permanent secretary of the National Planning Commission, Leevi Hungamo, conceded that Amupolo Building Construction’s tender bid also did not include the required valid affirmative action compliance certificate. Hungamo stated that the Tender Board made a mistake when it failed to detect that an affirmative action certificate was not included in the close corporation’s tender bid.

Kauta has argued in his affidavit that the practice has been that in the case of a joint venture where one of the partners is owned by foreign nationals only the locally owned joint venture partner is required to submit an affirmative action compliance certificate to the Tender Board.

The Tender Board awarded the tender to Amupolo Building Construction on 20 February. The implementation of the contract was put on hold on 16 April, when the legal challenge of Mansudae Overseas Projects and Econo Investments resulted in an initial hearing in the High Court.

Gerson Narib and Patrick Kauta represented the joint venture in court on Friday. Sakeus Akweenda and Amupanda Kamanja represented Amupolo Building Construction, while senior counsel Herman Oosthuizen and Eliaser Nekwaya represented the Tender Board, the PS of the National Planning Commission, and the minister of information and communication technology.

Source : The Namibian