THE China State Engineering Construction Company will not be able to continue with the project to upgrade the Toivo ya Toivo Airport in Ondangwa after a ruling by the Supreme Court of Namibia.
The ruling follows a protracted litigation process after a decision taken by the board of the Namibia Airports Company (NAC) in 2016 to award the company a contract to upgrade the northern airport.
In awarding the tender, the previous NAC board did not follow the company’s procurement policies.
Judge President Petrus Damaseb and Acting Judge Theo Frank also ordered that any contract that came into existence between the China State and the NAC as a result of the tender award, be set aside.
Further, public competitive bidding for the upgrade of phase two at the airport was not observed, an act which, according to the judges, constitutes ignoring public interest.
“Public interest is best served by reopening the entire process to competitive public bidding so that assurance is had that public resources are expended in the most cost-effective way. The High Court did not misdirect itself. The manner in which the award was made leaves the reasonable observer with an uneasy feeling that the process involving the spending of public funds was not transparent,” the Justices stated in their ruling.
The High Court’s cancellation of China State’s tender and the subsequent disbandment of the former NAC board follows misrepresentations by the then NAC Chief Executive Officer, Tamer El-Kallawi and the head of Engineering, Information and Projects, Courage Silombela, to the board of directors at the time.
The ruling was also made on the grounds that the old board failed to apply its mind on important matters, including the absence of approved funds for the project.