A dispute over 360 unoccupied houses and apartments completed under the government’s mass housing programme in Windhoek is now before the High Court. The units were primarily completed in 2016, but not handed over because of a stand-off over who should install services such as water and electricity.
Windhoek’s N$350 million mass housing project was awarded to a company called CalgroKuumba, which is owned by businessman Titus Nakuumba and his South African partners, Calgro.
The joint venture was initially awarded the contract to build over 1 000 houses in the Otjomuise suburb in Windhoek, but the number was cut to 360 after president Hage Geingob halted the housing project. On the face of it, the mixed housing development – apartments and stand-alone houses – appears complete, with houses ready for occupation.
But behind the closed doors are homes that lack services such as water and electricity, which has since 2016 delayed the handing over of the houses in a city where many need decent accommodation.
Naakumba’s company, CalgroKuumba, is now dragging the government to court over a dispute on who should install these services. CalgroKuumba is suing the government and the urban development ministry as the first and second respondents, respectively.
Court documents filed at the High Court on 23 October 2018 show that CalgroKuumba is demanding around N$12 million from the government.
CalgroKuumba explained in the court papers about a meeting on 8 February 2016 attended by Nakuumba, former urban development minister Sophia Shaningwa and her permanent secretary (now executive director), Nghidinua Daniel.
An agreement signed at that meeting stated that the construction of the houses was supposed to have been done within a year.”Essential sewerage, electricity and water services and service connections do not form part of the building contract or scope of work,” CalgroKuumba’s particulars of claim said.
According to the company, the contract had to be reviewed to include services such as sewerage, electricity and water connections.This was supposed to be done through a variation order, a process of amending a construction agreement.
CalgroKuumba accused the government of failing to issue the variation order, and made it difficult for them to complete the project.The lack of action from the government and its representative resulted in CalgroKuumba suffering financial losses, the company said in its court papers.
The company is asking the court to compel the government to pay it around N$12 million, including 20% interest per year.A report compiled by the Office of the Attorney General explains why the government was playing hard to get in paying Naakumba’s company.
The report details a meeting held in April 2017 between former attorney general Sacky Shanghala, Shaningwa, Daniel and other officials.Minutes of that meeting showed that one of the main bones of contention between Naakumba’s firm and the government is the payment of professional fees.