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When contractor supervision fails, home owners pay the price

When contractor supervision fails, home owners pay the price

To the Editor,

Namibia’s low-cost housing initiative in my opinion has been inefficient and ineffective and structured to fail the prospective home-owner by accommodating corruption, misrepresentation and conning. Under the current general structure of the contracts between local authorities and contractors, much is left for desire.

In doing some research I could get information of what is more or less happening when it comes to holding the selected contractors accountable for non-performance. What really is labelled as the ‘brown envelope under the table’ is largely responsible for this non-performance of contractors resulting in local authorities being extremely lenient in handling the situation all to the detriment of the prospective home owner.

Accompanied by this, is the contractors’ reluctance to invest their own funds which they promised to do and for which they provided bank confirmations about their financial capacity or at least having access to financing. Many contractors very quickly realised that the profit margins are not for them. This is evident in the endless delays in materials procurement and non-payment of sub-contractors.

Another issue which surfaced is that the contracts between the prospective home owner and contractors have no time frame for completion from date of signature, leaving prospective home owners more so to the mercy of the contractors. Getting back to sub-contractors, the contracts between them and the contractors are also very poorly drafted, with sub-contractors signing themselves into financial ruin.

In my view, all of the above issues could greatly be erased with local authorities having a more hands-on approach.

First, there are small contractors that do have the skill and experience to efficiently execute these low-cost housing projects and are willing to do so. But, they lack the financial resources or access to it. Our government do have funds, e.g. GIPF, SSC etc. that could be availed to the local authorities to fund at least the first stage or two of construction. These funds will in any event be recouped from the new home owners since they make use of bank financing.

Second, the authorities should be more stringent in the supervision of contractors to ensure employees and prospective home owners are not disadvantaged. Our leaders have become too pre-occupied in lining their pockets and not ensuring quality service delivery.

Thirdly, prospective new home owners should at least try to seek a learned eye to scrutinise any contract presented to them.

Lastly, gearing the initiative to focus on small contractor involvement and improved project supervision on the part of local authorities will surely result in increased efficiency and improved income distribution on a local level.

I urge prospective owners and subcontracors that suffer at the hands of the corrupt and lazy to approach their local authorities and Ombudsman offices with their complaints.

John Saunderson,

Economist,

Amir Consulting Services CC.

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