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Second desalination plant soon

Construction of the country’s second desalination plant will start “soon” after the tender for the N$2 billion project closed at the end of last month.
Abraham Nehemia, the Under Secratary in the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry told the Economist Wednesday that they were currently evaluating bids after the tender closed on 29 June. He expects the evaluation process to last one and half months because of the “large volumes of documents”and thereafter construction work to begin.
He said: “The tender closed on 29 June so we are busy evaluating now. It’s large volumes of documents which might take us probably one and half months to do the evaluations before we then come to the conclusion of who is the contractor that gets the tender.
“We are working towards water flowing from the plant in 2014 so as soon we are done with the evaluations, the successful tenderer will be informed and they have to start mobilising.”
Nehemia said they have already signed offtake agreements with an unidentified number of mining companies in the Erongo region to avoid disagreements over the pricing of water after the project has been completed.
Areva, which built the country’s first desalination plant in 2010, is still involved in negotiations with NamWater over the uptake of water from the plant two years after it was commissioned.
Nehemia assured the Economist that the second desalination plant will not suffer the same fate as Areva’s.
“This plant that we are building is done through consultations within everybody; all the mines have even signed the offtake agreements; there are already consumers. We will not just put up a plant and see who we will sell the water to. Government will finance 30% of the investment while a private investor will shoulder the bulk of the investment, one of the largest in the country.
The Under Secrateray said a Public Private Partnership was the best way in developing projects that requires huge capital outlays as government alone cannot afford such projects.
He said: “We have put out that tender on a PPP basis. An investor must come in with money, government will invest 30% and over a number of years, that investor will recoup their money from the water sales instead of the government taking the whole N$2 billion from the taxpayer’s money and go and put up a plant.
“We instead take the N$2 billion that we were supposed to pump in there and put it into schools and other things and gradually through the water users we are able to pay back the money of the investor otherwise we are required to have billions and billions of money available if everything should be developed with state money.”

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