Second desalination in limbo?
Fifteen months after bidding closed for the proposed N$2 billion second desalination plant, the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources is yet to announce the successful company or companies for the tender.
The second desalination plant, expected to produce 25 million cubic metres of water, will be built through a public private partnership in which the government will hold a 30% interest while a private investor will shoulder the bulk of the investment.
The plant was initially scheduled to be commissioned in 2010, but progress on the project has inexplicably been stalled.
Abraham Nehemia, the Under Secretary in the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry told the Economist in July last year that the ministry was then evaluating bids after the tender closed on 29 June.
The evaluation process was supposed to have taken one and half months to complete, and construction of the desalination plant was expected to have begun immediately after the winning tenderer had been announced, but up to this day no company has been awarded the tender.
Nehemia said then: “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 evaluate before we 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.”
In its October Newsletter published this week, NamWater wrote that the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry had announced that construction of the second seawater desalination plant in the Erongo Region would start next year as the government want to ensure its efforts are successful to secure water for human consumption as well as for industrial and commercial usage.
Following the publication of this notice, the Economist sought to get an update on the project that has been on the cards for almost five years, but Nehemia and Leopold Niipare the project manager for the desalination plant were unavailable for comment as they were said to be out of the country while NamWater officials expressed ignorance on the progress of the project.
NamWater spokesperson, Tommi Nambala-Riva said he did not have much information on what is going on. “This is a Ministry of Agriculture project, so I can not comment on what is happening.”
An unidentified official within the agriculture ministry could only tell the Economist that the tender has not been awarded yet. The official, however, refused to give reasons why the tender has not been awarded some 15 months after the tender closed.