July 20, 2018

Over Priced Road Contracts


THE transport ministry rejected a plan by the Roads Authority to extend three road contracts valued at N$1,6 billion to three companies without publicly advertising the tenders.
Currently, there are three highways under construction – the Swakopmund to Walvis Bay, the Windhoek to Hosea Kutako and the Windhoek to Okahandja.

The Swakopmund to Walvis Bay highway is being constructed by Chinese-owned company Unik Construction Engineering Namibia and its Namibian partner, Thohi Construction for N$958 million.

The N$1 billion contract for the contruction of a section of the Windhoek to Okahandja highway was awarded to the Italian construction company CMC and their Namibian partner Otesa Civil Engineering, while another N$1 billion contract for the Windhoek to Hosea Kutako highway went to the China Railway Seventh Group and Onamagongwa Trading Enterprise.

Two of the highways – Windhoek to Hosea Kutako and Windhoek to Okahandja – are supposed to be completed by January 2019, while the Swakopmund to Walvis Bay highway should be done by June next year.

Works and Transport permanent secretary Willem Goeiemann asked the RA last year to present a strategy on how the parastatal plans to implement the three projects to meet deadlines.

RA chief executive Conrad Lutombi wrote to Goeie­mann on 2 February 2018, recommending that the three companies which are currently constructing the highways should be given extensions to work on the next kilometres, which would rule out advertising the tenders.

According to the Roads Authority (RA), the Windhoek to Hosea Kutako International Airport road would be extended by three kilometres at a cost of N$150 million, while the Swakopmund to Walvis Bay road will increase by eight kilometres for N$435 million. The Windhoek to Okahandja road would be extended by 21 kilometres for a whopping N$1 billion.

The RA stated that the three road extensions would cost a combined N$1,6 billion, and that allowing continuity would save the government N$147 million.

The savings, according to the parastatal, include the fact that the companies would not need to set up a new construction camp. The camp consists of workers' accommodation.

THE LOW ROAD

Works deputy minister Sankwasa James Sankwasa, however, rejected this proposal to extend the roads, and blasted the RA for accepting inflated tenders.

Sankwasa rejected the proposal in two letters he wrote to works minister John Mutorwa and Goeiemann on 27 February and 2 May 2018.

“I am not in a position to agree with the recommendations to award the extensions of construction work to the existing tenderers,” he said, suggesting that the RA should instead go for a public tender, supervised by the ministry of works.

“Should any tenderer not quote within the confines or rates of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, the government should reject such tender,” he emphasised.

According to him, Namibian road projects, compared to other southern African countries, are expensive.

The deputy minister said he researched Namibian road construction costs compared to other countries, mainly Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

“I discovered that nearly all SADC countries construct roads of bitumen (tar) standards at approximately N$5 million to N$8 million per kilometre, depending on the topography of the area where the road is being constructed,” he said.

The deputy minister further said that about 10 years ago, Namibia was constructing roads at an average cost below N$5 million per kilometre.

“This seems to have changed overnight, to where Namibia is constructing at the cost of N$12 to N$15 million per kilometre,” he added.

The three roads are priority projects under the Harambee Prosperity Plan, President Hage Geingob's signature development plan, which has promised better roads up to 2020.

“Does government have to undertake overpriced projects because they are Harambee projects?” the deputy minister asked.

“The sudden escalation in the costs of road construction and all other construction works in Namibia requires an urgent investigation, and the halting of such overpricing practices”, he stressed.

For instance, Sankwasa said the Swakopmund to Walvis Bay road was overpriced by around N$60 million, compared to the initial cost government budgeted for.

The deputy minister said he objected to the awarding of the Swakopmund to Walvis Bay road tender in April 2016 when he indeed recommended its cancellation and re-advertisement.

“I clearly stated that this tender was riddled with corruption, and should be cancelled and be re-advertised. But such recommendation was brushed aside, and the tender was eventually awarded to the third most expensive tenderer, Unik, instead of the cheapest and the best tenderer, as evaluated by the consulting engineer,” he added.

Sankwasa told The Namibian this week that he planned to intervene in the current tenders as they were overpriced, and he wanted the permanent secretary to correct the matter.

“As permanent secretary, I expect him [Goeiemann] to act in the public interest of the country and a duty to protect state resources,” he reiterated.

Sankwasa suggested that if the material is too expensive, then why not get material from another source that's cheaper.

“It just boils down to corruption,” he charged.

NOTHING WRONG

RA chief executive Lutombi told The Namibian yesterday that they are aware of Sankwasa's concerns, but denied that they committed the government to overpriced roads contracts.

“All the tenders that were awarded, of all current projects, went through a competitive advertised tender process. Hence, all the tenders were awarded regarding the price and technical expertise in line with the Roads Authority's procurement process,” he said.

Lutombi further stated that they responded to Sankwasa's letter with a detailed report on the cost of the dual-carriage freeways versus single carriageways.

The ministry of works then submitted their proposal to the Central Procurement Board (CPB) for scrutiny, and for the board to indicate whether it was done legally.

“We are still waiting for a response from the CPB,” he said.

Lutombi added that the risks of going for underpriced contracts include poor quality, and the project not being completed on time.

The RA advertised in newspapers last week for a consultant to carry out a study on road construction prices.

The three highways have a controversial past.

The Namibian reported in 2016 that the RA and the ministry of works committed the government to contracts of more than N$2 billion without following procedures, and claiming that they were made a priority by “the highest offices”.

The N$2 billion will have to be paid over two years, but the finance ministry, already under pressure from massive cash shortages, was forced to find N$800 million to pay road construction companies.
Source - Namibian

sOURCE

July 12, 2018

Asphalting in Rain

A New Innovative Technology for Road Asphalting in the rain

innovative technology for road asphalting

Asphalting in the rain: The Challenge

In February 2018, Sacyr approached ennomotive to solve a complex challenge: an innovative technology for road asphalting in the rain.
Traditionally, the asphalting of roads requires special humidity and temperature conditions to ensure the good quality of the surface. However, in tropical countries where it rains heavily and frequently, paving is extremely difficult, the quality of the asphalt is not always optimal, and oftentimes the operation needs to be halted.
Prior to this challenge, a few potential market solutions had been considered and tested, but they all solved the problem partially, so the expected effectiveness and results were not entirely satisfactory.
Sacyr was looking for a process or an asphalt mix that enabled the paving under heavy rain conditions and the quality of the final product needed to be similar to the asphalt obtained in dry weather.
For 6 weeks, 35 engineers from 10 countries accepted the challenge and submitted different solutions. After a thorough evaluation, Sacyr picked the two solutions that best met the evaluation criteria and awarded the winners, the Portuguese Civil Engineer Henrique Borges Miranda, and José Manuel Sanz, from Spain.
We have contacted Henrique Miranda to learn about his experience and motivations to compete in this challenge. Here you can read the full interview.

Henrique Miranda, an asphalt expert from Portugal

innovative technology for road asphalting

Can you introduce yourself briefly? What is your more relevant working experience?

My name is Henrique Manuel Borges Miranda, I’m from Portugal, and I live in the beautiful city of Lisbon.
Academically, I graduated in 2005 as Civil Engineer at ISEL (Instituto Superior de Engenharia de Lisboa, Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa), where I had the honor to receive the award for the best civil engineering student.
In 2008, I completed my Master of Science (Transports – Design and Construction of Transportation Infrastructures) at IST, with the collaboration of the National Laboratory of Civil Engineering, where I experimentally studied the fatigue behavior of asphalt rubber mixtures.
In 2016, I completed my Ph.D. in Civil Engineering at IST, with the collaboration of the National Laboratory of Civil Engineering, where I experimentally studied Stone Mastic Asphalt – mix design, production, application, and performance.
Regarding my professional experience, I started to work at ISEL as a monitor in 2003, past to assistant professor in 2008 and adjunct professor in 2017. I am also responsible for the courses on pavement engineering and topography.
During all this time, I simultaneously worked as road and pavement engineer for about 12 years, regarding, namely, road and pavement design, development of new materials (rubberized binders), construction and maintenance of highway pavements. More recently, I have been additionally invited to work as a researcher in the Research Centre for Territory, Transports, and Environment in Portugal.

What challenges have you participated in? Which do you like most?

Life is a challenge, and I like challenges, especially when they require thinking differently. Different is good. Every time we accept a challenge, we have the opportunity to grow no matter whether we win or not.
Fortunately, in 2017 I had the honor of winning the civil engineering innovation award for young engineers given by the Portuguese Association of Engineers. This innovation award was related to the patent I developed during my Ph.D. It was about a new method to design, in a day, stone mastic asphalt using just a computer or a smartphone, as opposed to the several weeks needed in the laboratory for the same mix design.
In terms of online challenges, this was my first one with ennomotive, and from what I had the opportunity to experience, it was a great competition with 35 international participants. This being my first ennomotive challenge, with such hard competition, it only makes me prouder and very honored to receive this award from Sacyr and Ennomotive.
I truly hope that this will be the first of many other challenges in which I participate and, if possible, win. At least, I will work even harder to try and accomplish that.
Having said that, I like challenges that involve the development of new materials/solutions that make our lives easier, not only in civil engineering and pavement engineering but in general, just because I like the feeling of thinking outside the box. It gives us space to dream of a different future than the one that we live in today.

How did you come up with the winning solution?

In the solution for “asphalting under heavy rain”, I basically focused on the main question to solve, without even knowing other possible existing solutions. I think that gave me the required mental space to develop a new solution, out of which we can make a new patent now. Inspiration came both from my background in pavement engineering and from the challenge proposed by Sacyr and ennomotive. Congratulations to them for bringing a good question to solve.
I truly hope this award inspires engineers in Portugal to do the same since I’m the first Portuguese Civil Engineer to get awarded at ennomotive. We have many extraordinary civil engineers, I see that every day with my students.

What is the level of innovation in the Portuguese Universities? Is there any technological area you would like to highlight in Portugal?

I cannot speak in the name of other Portuguese Universities, but I can tell you my experience at ISEL (Instituto Superior de Engenharia de Lisboa, Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa). Regarding pavement engineering, we are focused in establishing new research platforms about, namely, circular economy, and the development of new road materials such as new rubberized binder technology that allows the use of rubber powder of old life tires till 50% on the binder without losing storage stability.
Source- ennomotive