ITALIAN ENGINEERING FIRM SLOWS DOWN WORK ON NAMIBIAN DAM PROJECT ON UNPAID BILLS

KEETMANSHOOP, NAMIBIA, Italian engineering company Salini Impregilo says it has been forced to rein in work on the Neckartal Dam project in ?Karas Region (Province) in southern Namibia to trim down on costs after the government's latest failure to settle its debts to the company.

Salini says it has reduced work shifts from 12 hours to seven-and-a-half hours to prevent layoffs and paying of overtime to workers and sub-contractors. The dam's workforce of around 2,500 has been informed of the company's decision in a letter last Friday.

The company normally operates on a 24-hour schedule with two 12-hour shifts.

Company insiders told Nampa on Tuesday the Namibian government at the beginning of September had only paid a portion of an accumulated amount owed to Salini.

"The President [Hage Geingob] announced that all outstanding bills to contractors would be paid by the end of August, but unfortunately, this promise is not being honoured," one source said.

The Director of Water Supply and Sanitation Co-ordination in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Leonard Niipare, has confirmed that only 127 million Namibian out of 209 million NAD (one US dollar = about 12.9 NAD) had been paid to Salini. "We are busy engaging with the Ministry of Finance to see how it can intervene to sort out the payment issue," he said.

Niipare acknowledged that recurring labour issues and cash flow problems at Neckartal could see the delay of the project ? officially set for completion at the end of 2017. He further admitted that the initial contract amount of 2.4 billion NAD for the largest dam in the country could escalate.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK