Roads Authority Rubbishes False Statements

The Roads Authority (RA) has rubbished claims about incompetent contractors causing delays in the completion of the three Ovitoto bridges and increasing the costs of construction.

Some of the workers on the construction project have made claims about incompetent contractors with no technical experience, which is increasing building costs and causing delays in the completion of the bridges. They claim the construction costs for the Ovitoto bridges in the Otjozondjupa Region, ballooned from an initial N$38 million to N$74 million, while delays pushed the completion date from September last year to mid-May this year. But the Manager Corporate Communication at the Roads Authority (RA), Hileni Fillemon, maintains that the project is still within budget, since a total of N$74 million was budgeted for the project, while N$69 million has been spent to date.

Sources further claim that the biggest bridge of the three had to be dismantled in certain parts, because it was not to the satisfaction of the Roads Contractor Company’s (RCC) specifications. Fillemon said none of the three bridges were dismantled as alleged, however one of the contractors had to redo the gabions at own cost due to non-conformance to RCC specifications.

Gabions are free-draining walls that are constructed by filling large galvanized steel baskets with rock to slow down the flow of water under the bridge and are not part of the fixed structure of the bridge. “They [gabions] are ancillary works to the bridge,” she said. She said the RA only has a contract with the RCC, which is the contractor for this project, but any other sub-contractors working on the project are subcontracted by the RCC. “However, it is important to note that sub-contractors are appointed based on their experience and technical know-how,” she said, adding that the contractors are also supervised physically on site by a resident engineer and an RA project control engineer who verifies, validates and approves the work carried out by contractors.

According to Fillemon a two-month extension was granted to the contractor up to November 17, 2013 due to delays caused by the rain and additional work, but the contractor could not complete the project as per the revised completion programme. However, the project is expected to be completed by mid-May this year. Last year government injected a further N$34 million to add to the N$38 million budgeted for in order to speed up the completion of the three bridges, 12 culverts and drainage structures in the Ovitoto area.

Building the bridges was a direct response to pleas from the inhabitants of the Ovitoto area that annual floods hindered the movement of traffic and people in the area.

The inhabitants have been complaining for years that rivers in flood cut off their access to the main road, since no vehicles or livestock could move about during the rainy season.

The construction contract was awarded to the Roads Contractor Company, while supervision is undertaken by Element Consulting Engineers.

Source : New Era