The president of the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), McHenry Venaani, is seeking answers on the profitability of the bulk fuel oil storage facility at Walvis Bay.
Venaani visited the facility yesterday to better understand the costs involved in its construction.
He says the facility is one of the government’s biggest investments and it is important to ensure the money was spent wisely.
When the National Assembly resumes, Venaani promises to ask for a bill of quantity.
“What did we spend the money on? Where did the money go and if we spent so much, what are we making at this point in time?
“If this thing was making a profit, those questions would be answered by any person,” he says.
Venaani does not dispute that the project is of national importance, however, he has concerns about its profitability.
“Are we making a profit from it? The biggest question is the escalation of pricing because this thing cost double. We have to ask the hard hitting questions of what led to the escalation.”
Venaani’s questions were not answered by the National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (Namcor) team onsite, and he was referred to the head office.
The construction tender for the bulk oil storage facility was awarded to Om’kumoh Consulting Engineers, together with its joint venture partner AIJ Project Cost Consultants. It was built by the Roads Contractor Company and Babyface Civils in collaboration with a Chinese joint venture comprising China Harbour Engineering Company.
It was commissioned in March 2021 and given to Namcor to operate and manage. The project budget was initially N$3,7 billion but this escalated to N$6,5 billion over a period of five years.
Last year, the government forked out another N$87 million.
Prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila at the time attributed the price escalation to the currency exchange rate, an explanation Venaani does not buy.
“Nothing in economics can increase from a billion to three billion and say that a dollar fluctuates. We need to hear the answers as to what really transpired and what led to this,” he says.
Venaani’s visit to the storage facility comes a month before the contractors are due to hand over the full operation.
In the defence of Om’kumoh Consulting Engineers, senior structural engineer Kondwani Chirembo says the price escalated because of changes in the original design.
He says at the beginning of the project, the Ministry of Mines and Energy as the owner of the project, had something called an employers requirement in engineering terms, which was in the tender document.
Chirembo says the tender document spelled out what the government wanted and it was up to the contractors to come up with designs, which required teams of engineers.
“In normal construction, the owner of the project engages a consultant to do the design and they don’t need to have an engineering crew because the owner has already taken that responsibility. In this particular case, the responsibility moved to the contractor,” Chirembo says.