The construction of offices for the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform and the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture at Eenhana in the Ohangwena region have been left abandoned for years. This is said to be due to poor workmanship.

The tender for the agriculture ministry’s regional office construction was awarded to Spes Bona Constructions and Renovations CC, for N$34 million in 2014, but the building was abandoned three years later.

The company allegedly left the site due to financial problems. According to a Spes Bona employee, the company halted work on the site as the government failed to honor its payments on the project for months.

Last year, agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein visited the construction site in the town and expressed disappointment over the slow progress of the construction.

Spes Bona owner Benito Groenveldt has declined to comment.” I have nothing to say at this stage,” he said. Meanwhile, Schlettwein said the ministry currently has no budget to complete construction on the building.

Ministry spokesperson Jona Musheko acknowledged that the ministry was aware of the delay in construction.

“The ministry is aware of the construction issues. We have made a budget provision for this financial year, but the funds made available will not be sufficient to complete all works on the building. We will extend final work on the construction to the next financial year,” he said.

Executive director of education, arts, and culture Sanet Steenkamp said contractors were not able to meet their contractual obligations.

“If a contractor cannot meet their obligations, there are specific clauses that state the way forward. This matter has followed the legal route, and the construction had to be stopped.

“When there is a legal route to be followed, the ministry cannot proceed immediately with a new decision. In this case, we have been very hands-on.

“In March 2022 we received feedback on the arbitrator. We have also written to the attorney general’s office on the way forward. What I can state is that the construction of the Eenhana office is a key priority to the ministry and we are well aware that rental is quite expensive.

“If a case is before the courts for arbitration, it is extremely difficult. The idea is for the ministry to continue with construction.

“There has been a quantity surveyor, who, along with the Ministry of Works and Transport, assessed the building. The ministry of works is fully aware of this matter and due process will be followed, and a new bill of quantity is being worked on,” she said.

Andjamba Construction owner John Temeipo confirmed that his company was contracted by the education ministry for the construction of the regional office, but said the ministry decided to suspend their contract.

“The matter is currently with the court. There is an arbitration process going on currently, and we hope the matter will be resolved as soon as possible,” he said.

The construction of the education offices at Eenhana commenced in April 2018, however, construction on the building came to a halt as the contractor could not deliver on time.

The services of the contractor were terminated in 2020 as, according to the ministry, only 24% of construction work was done.

The education ministry’s offices were to be constructed for N$70 million.

SOURCE: Namibian

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