Confusion reigns at RTC over continuation of PPP deal

21 Feb 2018 19:00pm
RUNDU, 21 FEB (NAMPA) – The mayor of Rundu, Verna Sinimbo has indicated that the public private partnership (PPP) between the Rundu Town Council (RTC) and Armstrong Construction will continue, despite disapproval from some council members.
The PPP was for the construction of 600 housing units at the town.
Sinimbo gave this indication in a letter seen by Nampa, dated 30 January 2018, addressed to the then Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Sophia Shaningwa.
Drafted in her personal capacity, Sinimbo said the project needs to continue based on the advice of the Attorney General (AG), which is the highest advisory body of Government.
“The project should proceed because the agreement was entered into by the previous council and during our current term, it was already at an advanced stage of implementation,” she said.
However councillors, who spoke to this agency on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation, said they were unhappy with the fact that the mayor took this decision without consulting them.
The letter in question was written without the knowledge of the other councillors and they are now expected to sit on Thursday for a caucus meeting that would look at the renegotiation of the PPP deal, the councillors said.
“What we do not understand is that we already passed a resolution where we all agreed to go and iron these issues out in court,” they said, adding that there were irregularities in the agreement.
In her letter, Sinimbo said advice had been sought from both the council’s private lawyers and the government attorneys, adding that the AG’s office strongly advised them at their last meeting held 14 January 2017 to proceed with the project.
She further wrote that the council should engage the company and renegotiate if the benefits are not clearly spelt out in the agreement, to reach a common consensus. She also said the council was not in good financial standing to go to court.
Last month, Armstrong Construction through its lawyers demanded to be paid N.dollars 337 million as compensation for the alleged cancelled PPP agreement.
Shaningwa, in her response to Sinimbo’s letter dated 07 February 2018, said she had no regrets in supporting the RTC’s position in ensuring that the PPP is effectively implemented as a model of land and housing delivery.
“I would however like, with great emphasis, [to] direct the Rundu Town Council to ensure that all requisite [documentation], such as the approvals for housing plans are granted within the conformity of the law in order to allow Armstrong to proceed with the project without any further delays,” said Shaningwa.
Contacted for comment and confirmation about the letter on Tuesday, Sinimbo denied the authenticity of the letter, saying she did not write it.
She further referred this agency to the acting Chief Executive Officer of the Council, Fransisca Thikerete regarding the letter as she does not know anything about it.
However, Thikerete could not confirm nor deny the authenticity of the letter, saying that she was not at liberty nor had the right to comment on the matter.