Pohamba Rejects Housing Aice

PRESIDENT Hifikepunye Pohamba has rejected ministerial aice to strip the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) of its custodianship of the mass housing project, suggesting that loopholes can be filled while the project continues.

According to sources, Pohamba said this during a meeting he held on Tuesday with the Minister of Regional and Local Government and Housing and Rural Development, Charles Namoloh the Mayor of Windhoek, Agnes Kafula Minister of Presidential Affairs, Albert Kawana the director general of the National Planning Commission, Tom Alweendo and the NHE chief executive officer, Vinson Hailulu.

Sources further said that Kawana, as the Attorney General, had aised Pohamba that NHE should be relieved of its role as the custodian of the mass housing project and that the local government ministry should take over. Apart from Kawana, the technical committee and Namoloh’s aiser were not happy with the way the tenders were awarded.

The technical committee that consists of permanent secretaries in the Office of the President, Ministry of Finance, National Planning Commission and Ministry of Regional and Local Government and Housing and Rural Development and aises Namoloh on the project, is said to have also supported Kawana’s recommendation.

However, Pohamba is said to have rejected the recommendations, although he is reportedly not happy with the mass housing project’s negative public perception since he considered it as a noble idea.

“What happened mostly was reconsideration of issues that have been identified in order continue the ambitious programme,” one source said.

The source further said that there was a suggestion that NHE should renegotiate some of the contracts while another was about the inclusion of officials from the local government ministry on several committees of the project.

Namoloh confirmed yesterday’s meeting with the President and said the programme will go on because Kawana’s aice remained aice and not an order.

“The mass housing is on, forever and ever, 247,” he said.

Namoloh also denied that a consensus was reached to renegotiate some of the contracts saying that he will issue a statement when he deems fit to do so. He, however, declined to comment on issues regarding the content of the meeting with Pohamba.

Even though Kafula declined to comment on the outcome of the meeting at State House, sources said the City of Windhoek hoped to get a favourable response from Pohamba.

On Monday, a delegation from the municipality met Namoloh to demand that the two companies they recommended for their low income houses programme in Windhoek’s Otjomuise area should also be part of the mass housing project.

Kafula confirmed the meeting but declined to comment on the content saying such information will be released at the officials’ discretion.

It has also emerged that there was another meeting between government officials and Namoloh before the State House gathering on Monday. Sources also said Namoloh held another meeting yesterday to communicate the outcome of the meeting with the technical committee.

NHE awarded two-year tenders for the construction of 10 137 houses countrywide to 25 companies for N$2,9 billion despite an outcry from stakeholders that middlemen companies had inflated prices which would lead to pushing the prices of the houses up.

A legal inquiry commissioned by NHE into the mass housing revealed that the line ministry asked NHE to renegotiate the Windhoek mass housing contract because of the “unauthorised increase in the number of units targeted 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”.

A technical committee has in the past accused NHE of awarding contracts to undeserving companies, despite rules stating that local contractors should have a track record of having built a minimum of 250 housing units, technical and financial capacity, quality and extensive experience.

NHE on the other hand claimed that some government officials were trying to sabotage the programme in order to take control of the most lucrative tender in the country. NHE has been complaining of the lack of money for the project and the fact that the parastatal had to pay for the projects from its own resources.

NHE’s spokesperson Eric Libongani refused to comment because of the damming report The Namibian ran yesterday about how they blew about N$400 000 at a sports tournament in Lesotho over the weekend.

Source : The Namibian