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Probe into stalled fish farm project… contractor claims cash-flow problems

2020-08-13  Steven Klukowski

Probe into stalled fish farm project… contractor claims cash-flow problems

KEETMANSHOOP – Government has ordered an investigation into the abandoned Fonteintjie fish farm project in the //Kharas region, which was supposed to be completed more than three years ago. 

Works minister John Mutorwa, who was part of a high-level government delegation that visited the project recently, said it was regrettable that authorities now have to investigate why the project was left incomplete instead of inaugurating it. 
Mutorwa made the remarks during a site visit at the project where he questioned why such a “very important envisaged life-giving and life-sustaining project has been abandoned, delayed, neglected and not completed”. 

“We are also here to receive the experts, consultants, contractors and architects’ professional advice about how, when, by whom and at what cost this project is going to be satisfactory and successfully completed in order to benefit the people in Keetmanshoop,” the minister said. 
Fisheries minister Albert Kawana said that since the government has adopted a motion of shared prosperity in order to address the socio-economic needs of people, it is imperative that developmental capital projects such as the Fonteintjie fish farm be operational as soon as possible. 

“We are here to solve the problem in order to ensure completion of the project as it speaks to the mandate given to me by President Hage Geingob, namely economic emancipation,” he explained. 
Begoña Garcia, a consultant from Bürmeister and Partners who have been overseeing the Fonteintjie project, said it started in October 2014 and the expected completion date was February 2016. 

“The contractor, Edison Katuuo from Edison Construction, was through our observations not capable of performing the job whilst we also had many issues regarding the quality of his performance,” she told the delegation. 
The consultant further claimed the contractor, most of the time, experienced cash-flow problems to continue with the project, but that all payments due to him had been effected up to the time he abandoned the works. 
“Based on this we then advised our client to terminate the contract of the contractor and appoint a new one to complete the long delayed project,” Garcia said. 

Katuuo, however, said that he had been evaluated in terms of his financial capability and experience and appointed thereafter to carry out the construction of the Fonteintjie fish farm project. 
“Based on the request from the Keetmanshoop Urban constituency councillor at that time, I had recruited mostly locals for semi-skilled labour, but that resulted that I have to redo most of the work they carried out due to their lack of experience,” he said. 
According to the contractor, this was the main cause for his cash-flow problems experienced while busy with the project. “Another challenge was that payments due to me in accordance with my work progress was always delayed by government,” he added. 

He said based on this he gave notice to his employer that he would terminate the contract if these issues were not amicably resolved, which led to the project coming to a standstill since then.  
The government delegation said it would work through all information received, do their own findings and recommendations, while obtaining expert technical, procurement and legal advice in order to pave the way forward in terms of the incomplete project. -

2020-08-13  Steven Klukowski

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