Keetmans TB Ward Project Hits Snag

THE contractor QE Construction CC risks having its tender terminated for failing to complete work on the Keetmanshoop tuberclosis ward within schedule.

Construction started in December and was scheduled for completion in May this year.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services permanent secretary, Andrew Ndishishi, said his ministry intends to terminate the contract, accusing the contractor of failing to fulfil its commitments.

“We will replace him with another contractor. Patients are suffering,” Ndishishi said angrily, adding that the ministry has approached the Tender Board of Namibia to terminate the contractor’s tender award.

Ndishishi further claimed that the contractor has ignored several calls for meetings to explain what was causing the construction delays. The contractor Quintus Erasmus, through his lawyer Jan Olivier, rejected claims of irresponsibility, blaming instead the project principal agent Afshani amp Afshani architects. Olivier said a dispute between his client and the principal agent caused the delay.

He also said the dispute arose when the archutects instructed his client to subcontract the aluminium work to Aluminium Bau, and that they should be paid 30% of the sub-contract of N$891 897.

“This impasse caused the principal agent to omit the aluminium work from the main contract. In so doing, they breached the agreement. This breach constitutes a breach by the ministry of health,” said Oliver.

Olivier argued that his client would have had to carry this deposit until such time as the work of the said aluminium sub-contractor has been completed, certified for payment and paid. He also said the aluminium work is “crucial for the completion of the project”.

“Our client reserves his rights. Despite several demands, the principal agent has until now failed to appoint a contractor for the aluminium work,” he added. Olivier failed to respond to follow-up questions sent by The Namibian last Friday seeking comment on the health ministry’s intention to terminate his client’s tender.

The principal agent dismissed Olivier’s claims as ‘lies’, blaming the delays on “poor performance and defective construction work”.

The principal agent project manager, Justin Mwanakatwe, accused the main contractor of ‘using’ the alleged omission of aluminium work from his tender contract as an ‘excuse’ for the delays.

Denying that the principal agent had imposed the sub-contractor for aluminium work, Mwanakatwe said Aluminium Bau was given the job because the main contractor does not specialise in aluminium work.

“Quotations they (main contractor) provided were not based on the aluminum work specification, hence we nominated Aluminum Bau for the installation of aluminum doors and windows. In fact, their quotations never referred to the (aluminium work) specifications” Mwanakatwe claimed.

According to Mwanakatwe, some sub-contractors were forced to dump the troubled project over default payments of an estimated combined sum of N$100 million the contractor owes them.

Olivier did not deny that the sub-contractors had sued his client over debt, however, he was quick to add that a Keetmanshoop based electrical work sub-contractor had been paid in full.

He added that his client countered the default payment claims, and had lodged a court application against subcontractors IGL trading as Afrox, Air Cool and Auas Flooring to “restore possession” of material they had removed from the construction site over non-payment of their dues.

In a response to questions from The Namibian last Friday, Aluminium Bau MD, Peter Doring replied: “This is a delicate situation, we will request that no article whatsoever is published. We will get back to you, the soonest on Tuesday”.

When The Namibian replied indicating that it would publish the article on Monday, Doring said he never signed a contract with the main contracting company because it never accepted his company’s quotation.

Doring admitted that the main contractor made a deposit into his company’s bank account, however, he added: “They paid an amount into our bank account, but we refunded the whole amount.They first had to accept our quotation – which they never did. They never even sent us any order whatsoever, regarding the Keetmanshoop District Hospital”.

“Furthermore, we state that all our and or Aluminium Bau CC’s rights to institute legal proceedings to restrain the publication of these defamatory statements and claim damages to us or Aluminium Bau CC’s reputation are reserved,” Doring concluded his response.

At the time of going to the press, Doring has failed to respond to questions The Namibian sent to him via e-mail last Friday although he promised to reply by Tuesday.

Source : The Namibian