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New unrealistic building standards delaying projects and increasing construction costs

New unrealistic building standards delaying projects and increasing construction costs

The Construction Industries Federation of Namibia (CIF) expressed its concern over the negative impact that a new set of quality standards for Windhoek housing projects will have on the cost of construction, in addition to numerous other obstacles that prevent the speedy and effective delivery of land for development.

The implementation of the new quality standards may lead to unwarranted delays, the Federation warned, adding that such delays in large construction projects typically have a major impact on overall costs.

CIF General Manager, Bärbel Kirchner explained “Any delays means that the delivery of housing is not happening as optimally as it should. Excessive quality assurance measures also mean that costs are increasing tremendously. This needs to be solved as soon as possible so that the housing shortage in our capital city can be addressed immediately.”

Whereas the popular perception is that the interests of contractors are dependent on building policies of the City of Windhoek, the reality is that the City’s new specifications for all infrastructure projects will have a detrimental impact on both the pace and the cost of housing delivery.

“The City of Windhoek administration has issued new in-house project specifications to contractors which are to be applied to all new infrastructure projects in Windhoek. Major changes include unrealistically high quality assessments with requirements well beyond the relevant publicly known, well-established and generally enforced SANS and SABS standards,” the Federation argued.

It is the Federation’s view that these new specifications undermine efforts to ensure swift land delivery and is in direct contrast to the announcement by the new mayor, Her Worship Ms Sade Gawanas, who indicated that land delivery is the City’s the highest priority.

“While the need for land servicing and housing in the capital city is exceptionally high, the demand cannot be met unlike in other towns where well-established and reliable standards are used.”

According to Kirchner, a possible solution entails that the City of Windhoek follows existing standards and test frequencies which are based on the existing SABS standards. “At the same time, all impediments to speedy delivery – which can be found in all phases before securing a home for the buyer –need to be analysed and explicitly addressed. This includes negotiations for land between the client and the City of Windhoek, the design phase, the tendering phase, the financing phase, the construction phase, the maintenance phase and the sales and marketing phase.”

Explaining the effect it has on projects, she said the new project specifications lead to excessively long waiting periods between the phases of works until tests are available. “The CIF is of the opinion that the new specifications are delaying contractors and the growth of Windhoek, which are not aligned with the reality on the ground.”

In order to determine the implications of the new project specifications issued by the City, contractors and engineers have done detailed assessments on the new testing requirements and concluded that the cost of all new projects and developments will increase by 40% to 100%. At the same time, the timeline of projects is extended needlessly, leading to double or triple the time required to complete projects.

The Federation stated that its members comprising contractors and other stakeholders in the construction sector are immensely frustrated as any request to address the situation so far is being ignored by the responsible City of Windhoek engineers and as of yet, there is no effective engagement from the City to find a solution.

The implementation of the new project specification system was a one-sided decision without the involvement of contractors and consulting engineers as the main stakeholders involved with implementation. The current situation has huge financial implications for the stakeholders in the industry.”


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