Namoloh Orders Contract Renegotiations

GOVERNMENT has ordered the National Housing Enterprise to renegotiate all the mass housing contracts within 10 days and said that this should be done in the public interest.

The Namibian understands that the decision to revisit the prices of the N$2,9 billion contracts came after the ministerial meeting with President Hifikepunye Pohamba last Tuesday, where the head of state resolved that the programme should continue but all the shortcomings should be ironed out.

“Everything is going to be renegotiated and that is a major sign that the government is not going to accept any wrong-doing in the project. It is not going to be done 100% but the fact that people accepted that something went wrong is a big message to the community,” said an NHE source.

The decision to re-negotiate contracts was allegedly made by Minister of Regional and Local Government and Housing and Rural Development Charles Namoloh in consultation with the attorney general, Albert Kawana, who had initially aised that the project should be taken away from NHE.

Although Namoloh denied that a consensus was reached to renegotiate the contracts, saying he will issue a statement when he deems it fit, The Namibian has it on good authority that the minister told his officials to review the contracts.

“Something went wrong and we are going to repair it,” said another source.

Before the direct renegotiations start, NHE will have to consult the mass housing technical committee, which includes permanent secretaries to discuss new prices, percentages and conditions to be offered to the companies.

“The instruction was that NHE should call everybody [contract holders], to negotiate and do it in the public interest. The AG aised that the contractor who refuses to renegotiate the tender should lose that deal. The possibility for government being taken to court are minimal,” said another source. “The renegotiations will aim to reduce some of the money approved by NHE and that will make houses affordable.”

Government has also decided to rope in the Ministry of Works and Transport to provide technical expertise on the committee that will try to convince contractors to drop their prices.

The recommendations and suggested percentages will then be taken to the ministerial committee on mass housing for approval.

Works minister Erkki Nghimtina confirmed to The Namibian yesterday that he was approached to provide technical personnel for the project, and said he will do so.

Although the bid to take the programme from NHE failed last week, The Namibian was informed that senior officials in the local government ministry want the project taken away from the parastatal and transferred to local authorities within the next two years.

Others said there is a need to review the year-old mass housing blueprint which some believe is already outdated.

Namoloh’s latest directive follows other “undermined directives” he gave such as the order for NHE to involve his aiser and to renegotiate the Windhoek mass housing contract because of the “unauthorised increase in the number of units planned in the first phase, resulting in over-commitment of resources, contractor overhead value, proposed contract period and average proposed price of N$6 000 per square metre”.

After consulting their lawyers, NHE said they were willing to renegotiate the contracts as instructed, but they fear the consequences if the companies that had won the tenders decide not to amend the terms.

An NHE source told The Namibian last week that they hope to finish the renegotiations on time and to convince government not to cancel the tenders as this will complicate matters.

NHE also warned of possible legal threats [which will last for two years] if they renegotiate all the mass housing contracts.

NHE referred all questions to the line ministry.

Source : The Namibian