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Local bidders up in arms over Okahandja waste tender

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has been asked to investigate a waste collection and removal tender at Okahandja, because it allegedly cintravenes a section of the Local Authorities Act.

The particular section states that such tenders should be used for local job creation.

The town’s municipality says the tender was put out in terms of the Public Procurement Act, which resulted in companies from the Khomas and Oshana regions being awarded the bid on 22 June.

In a letter written to ACC director general Paulus Noa on 17 July, unsuccessful Otjozondjupa bidders said: “The advertisement of the tender by the Okahandja municipality, whose implementation (after bid submission) was cancelled several times since May 2021, was eventually readvertised earlier this year.”

The letter says following 28 bid submissions by companies in and around the Otjozondjupa region, the municipality on 22 June issued a notice announcing two successful bidders from the Khomas and Oshana regions.

The letter was received by the ACC and is currently under review, according to ACC spokesperson Sophia Petrus.

Okahandja Town Council councillor Charl Coetzee says the council faced various issues.

“When we took over, there were a lot of unattended items, one of which was that our town was extremely dirty,” he says.

At this time, the council was still without a chief executive officer (CEO), and Coetzee says the council then agreed to assign 14 companies at Okahandja to clean the town.

He says a 2021 council resolution requires companies to be based at Okahandja to curb the effects of unemployment at the town.

“It served a double purpose. On the one hand, we wanted our town to be clean, and on the other hand, we wanted to create jobs,” Coetzee says.

He says the resolution never came to fruition until after the appointment of the current CEO, Alphons Tjitombo, when one morning, the council saw a new municipality notice which made the tender available much wider.

Coetzee says after discussions with the CEO about the resolution, Tjitombo maintained that he was in charge of implementing resolutions, even without consulting with council members.

“We told him to revoke the resolution because it isn’t right, and when we met for another meeting, he did not provide answers, but instead returned with a letter from a lawyer stating why we (council members) cannot revoke the resolution,” Coetzee says.

Okahandja community leader Petrus Kampaku says the tender was intended to help address unemployment at the town.

“They made it clear that bidders are supposed to be from the region or from the town,” he says.

He says after residents complained, the council reduced the tender amounts.

The tender amount of Geronika Investment CC, from the Khomas region, was reduced from N$2 865 120 to N$1 248 720, while that of Oshivanda Business Enterprise, from the Oshana region, was reduced from N$2 866 495 to N$1 400 590.

“They sent out a letter saying they made a mistake, but they only did that because they saw that the residents were standing up . . . Why did they not advertise the tender if they made a mistake?” Kampaku asks.

Tjitombo this week said he could not comment on procurement issues.

Okahandja municipality procurement officer Pesella Nunda said bidders were evaluated in terms of the bid document they purchased, and were subjected to a two-stage evaluation process.

The process was conducted in terms of the Public Procurement Act, he said.

“The bidders scoring the highest combined score were awarded the bid,” Nunda said.