The Roads Authority (RA) says it is appalled by “defamatory” accusations levelled against its CEO Conrad Lutombi, by the leader of the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) political party, Bernadus Swartbooi, at a recent media conference. Swartbooi accused Lutombi of being unpatriotic for “giving” tenders to Chinese nationals.
In a statement from Lutombi’s office, the RA noted it conducts all its procurement activities in line with provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2015 and its regulations.
“The allegations of un-patriotism and the insinuation that the RA favours Chinese contractors above Namibians are defamatory, false and unfounded. The RA will continue to conduct its business, without fear or favour in a fair and transparent manner to the benefit of all Namibians in our quest to achieve our aspiration of a sustainable road network which is ahead of national and regional socio-economic needs in pursuit of Namibia’s Vision 2030,” the statement reads.
The RA further pointed out that it has been a staunch advocate in the promotion of Namibian contractors and SMEs. To illustrate this, they mentioned that during the last five years, 84 Namibian contractors and 442 local small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) conducted road maintenance works under the RA. During the same period, new gravel roads were constructed by 11 emerging contractors with participation of 45 SMMEs.
Meanwhile, for capital projects, 23 roads were upgraded to bitumen standards, of which Namibian contractors did six, while nine other Namibian contractors participated as joint venture partners with foreign contractors. The remaining eight projects were done by foreign contractors. During the construction of these road projects, 339 Namibian entities participated as sub-contractors and SMMEs. During the works for construction and maintenance on all RA road projects, 13 607 employment opportunities were created for Namibians. This, the RA said, is in line with their SME Development Policy, which takes cognisance of the fact that creating employment is one of government’s major national development goals. The RA also pointed out that Namibian contractors such as Otesa Civil Engineering, Thohi Construction, Namibbeton and Nexus Civils are currently working on major road construction projects.
Moreover, Phase 2b of the Windhoek-Hosea Kutako International Airport road project is fully funded by the People’s Republic of China via a grant to the tune of N$1.035 billion. “To make it clear, this is the money coming into Namibia for the development of our road network and not money going out of our country as alluded to by Hon. Swartbooi,” the RA stated.
The Roads Authority then explained that this Chinese aided grant project is the first of its kind in Namibia, therefore, the procurement process was a hybrid approach, which incorporated both Chinese and Namibian procurement processes. This procurement process, said the RA, was done in a fair and transparent manner through a process that Lutombi was not part of.
The RA also stated that to ensure Namibians benefit from this project, materials for the construction of this phase will be solely sourced from Namibian suppliers and there will also be opportunities for subcontracting of specialised works for local SMEs and subcontractors. Approximately 270 jobs will be created for Namibians during the construction period.
“This procurement legislation aims to uplift sound procurement practices by promoting principles such as accountability, transparency, consistency, legality and competitive supply. Thus, the RA wants to make it categorically clear that its CEO, Mr Lutombi, does not have the power or the authority to single handedly appoint a contractor for construction works. In fact, Mr Lutombi does not form part of the Bid Evaluation Committees that are appointed to recommend contractors to be awarded road construction tenders,” reads the RA’s statement.