Home » NamWater Probes N$248m Tender Award to Unik
Business Featured Global News Namibia News

NamWater Probes N$248m Tender Award to Unik

Tax fraud, bribery and corruption allegations levelled against a senior employee of the company which built Swapo’s new headquarters has now resulted in NamWater investigating the awarding of a N$248-million tender to the same company.

This was triggered by a report in The Namibian on the arrest of Jiaxue Liao, a senior employee of Unik Construction and Engineering, who was taken into custody on Tuesday after he allegedly bought a tax clearance certificate from an intermediary who was working with officials from the Namibia Revenue Agency (Namra), who are allegedly running a syndicate selling tax certification documents to people and companies who are not in good standing with the agency.

The N$248-million contract is for the Ohangwena II Welfield Water Supply Schemes (WSS), and NamWater is pondering to backpedal on the award.

NamWater chief executive Abraham Nehemia yesterday said the company is aware of the reports and is monitoring the situation closely to determine a way forward.

“We only saw the story in The Namibian today (yesterday) and we are conducting our own investigation. The findings will determine where we go as far as the awarding of the tender is concerned,” Nehemia said, adding it is still too early for the parastatal to pronounce itself on the matter.

He said NamWater does not make a habit of employing entities with questionable reputations.

“We normally do due diligence with all the companies we award tenders to,” he said.

Jiaxue appeared before magistrate Dawid Mukuyu on Wednesday and was charged with fraud and forgery.

Mukuyu remanded him in police custody until 5 December to allow him to formally apply for bail.

State prosecutor Rowan van Wyk requested that Jiaxue remain in police custody to allow the police to conduct sensitive investigations and to pursue more suspects. Van Wyk said Jiaxue was also a flight risk and that the state is looking at adding additional charges of tax evasion and money laundering to his charge sheet.

Jiaxue was represented by lawyer Reya Karuaihe.

Unik Construction and Engineering has over the years become a prominent player, scooping the Namibian government’s major construction tenders with ease.

The company also scored the lucrative tender to construct Swapo’s N$1-billion headquarters opposite Katutura Intermediate Hospital in Windhoek.

Queried on the ruling party’s choice of contractors in light of Unik Construction and Engineering’s alleged trail of scandals, an irate Sophia Shaningwa, who is the secretary general of Swapo, said The Namibian was being biased.

“Why are you people so biased? Why did you pick Swapo for a comment when Unik is also busy with numerous other projects across the country?” she asked.

Shaningwa maintained that her party does not operate based on allegations, but only works with facts.

“Allegations remain allegations until they are proven in a credible court of law. How many allegations have been out there around innocent people that were later exonerated?” she asked.

“Besides, it was not Unik alone that applied for the tender. There were several companies, and we employed Unik based on facts and documents that were put in front of us, including certificates of good standing.

“These documents are not provided by Swapo, but by relevant institutions,” she said.

In addition to Jiaxue’s arrest, Unik Construction and Engineering is further accused of bribing procurement officials, unfair labour practices, as well as various other instances of wrongdoing in other countries, including Botswana and Eswatini.

Source : Namibian