in Features / Airports

Namibia seeks new contractor for HKIA

Posted 27 July 2017 · Add Comment

The Namibian Government says it has restarted a “transparent and cost-sensitive” tendering process for the expansion of the Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA), which stalled in March after a Supreme Court ruling nullified the December 2015 decision to award the contract to a Chinese company. Oscar Nkala reports.

Hosea Kutako International Airport is located about 45km east of the Namibian capital, Windhoek, and is the country’s largest facility with international connections.
The Supreme Court ruling ended a long-running legal battle in which Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group, a state-owned concern, disputed a government decision to cancel the tender.
That decision had been taken following a review that revealed the Ministry of Works and Transport and the Namibian Airports Company (NAC) had flouted tender regulations.
The cancellation was also influenced by consultants, who advised the government that, at $466 million (N$7 billion), Anhui’s price tag for the airport upgrade and rehabilitation tender was far too expensive for the scope of work envisaged.
At the time, media reports also alleged gross irregularities and possible bribery and corruption were rife during the bidding process.
However, the Chinese company took legal action against the government, saying it should restore the contract or pay restitution for breach of contract.
Following the Supreme Court ruling in April, Namibian President, Hage Geingob, said the government had re-started the tendering process.
“Despite the urgent need to upgrade the airport, we did not hesitate to seek the cancellation of the tender due to irregularities. The Supreme Court decision to set the tender award aside has enabled us to restart a transparent and cost-sensitive procurement process,” he said.
The airport upgrade plan is aimed at de-congesting the main passenger terminal and preventing traveller delays. The new structure will feature separate departures and arrivals halls and a world standard VIP hall to accommodate dignitaries.
A second and longer runway will also be built to handle traffic in the event that the existing one is out of action.
Apart from the HKIA, NAC operates seven other airports, which are also earmarked for infrastructure upgrades as Namibia struggles to achieve its goal of being the alternative regional gateway to South Africa.
However, the current upgrade plans only cover HKIA, Eros, Ondangwa and Walvis Bay airports. NAC CEO, Tamer El-Kallawi, said there is no budget for upgrades to the smaller airports in the towns of Rundu, Katima-Mulilo, Lüderitz and Keetmanshoop, which are all in bad shape.
The airport in Rundu features a shed with 25 seats, which forces the majority of passengers to stand while waiting to catch flights or to be collected after landing.
The airport has no passenger terminal and minimal ablution facilities, which are shared by its staff and travellers.
Although it has a 3.5km runway capable of accommodating larger aircraft, it has no lights and the apron and taxiways are paved with gravel. The airport has no refuelling facilities and receives outsourced supplies, which are delivered only on request.

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