The Acting CEO of the Namibia Airports Company (NAC), Albertus Aochamub, recently fielded questions from the Windhoek Observer reporter, Sonja Smith,
on a number of issues including his future at the airports company and the much talked about revamp of the Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA). Below is an excerpt of that interview.
SS: It’s exactly three months since you were appointed as the Acting CEO of the NAC. What have you been seized with since your appointment?
AA: The bulk of the work has been around focusing the energies on initiatives that my colleagues have been running with before I joined and the imperatives of the future. It ranges from key compliance issues at all airports to planning for the emergency work to be done to alleviate congestion at the Hosea Kutako International Airport. And of course, everyone wants to know when a new international airport facility will be built for them to be proud of as Namibians.
SS: What has been the most challenging aspect of your job?
AA: The biggest challenge is to keep the focus on the long-term sustainability of the company whilst at the same time dealing with a heap of compliance matters that require immediate attention, a very delicate balance indeed.
SS: What would you like to achieve at the NAC or to be remembered for once your term of office comes to an end?
AA: My term of office is for 12 months under the current contractual arrangements. We are focused on fast tracking the short-term work to alleviate congestion at our premier international airport, prepare adequately for the November 2018 Audit by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), and then lay a reasonable foundation for the ultimate construction of a new international airport. A 12-month period is a rather short time, but we are hopeful that we can lay a good foundation for the substantive CEO to be appointed and his/her team to build on.
SS: The full-time position of Chief Executive Officer will be advertised this month. Are you considering applying for the position? If not, where to from here?
AA: Decisions of the future trajectory of my professional life belong in the future. For now my colleagues and I are focused on the tasks at hand.
SS: The forensic investigation into the four Namibia Airports Company (NAC) executives who were suspended last year without any charges leveled against them has been completed. What are the charges and recommendations of the report?
AA: It will not be fair for me to comment on any detail of that report until the colleagues who are affected have had chance to review it. They have their rights in law and also deserve to have their dignities respected by their employer. Let us not find them guilty in a court of public opinion and by so doing destroy their careers without following a due process that is fair and beyond question. All matters will be resolved before the end of May 2018.
SS: Is it true that there is a proposal by the Namibian government to a Chinese company to fund the upgrade and construction of the HKIA?
AA: It is not true. No such discussion has ever taken place with the leadership of the Airports Company to-date.
SS: If it is true, what are some of the major issues contained in the proposal?
AA: Any deal will be constructed on the basis of fair and reasonable value for Namibia without mortgaging the future of generations to come. We know what that fair value is already for a world-class facility. No short cuts will be taken in ensuring that we get the best price for the best build quality.
SS: When do you hope to conclude this deal? And when can construction begin?
AA: We are preoccupied with completing the emergency work over the next few months to deal with the congestion being experienced at the Hosea Kutako International Airport. To that end, we are months away from the construction of a new airport, but work is afoot to determine funding modalities for such an undertaking as and when it occurs.
These options might include a soft loan facility from a friendly government, a Public Private Partnership on a Build-Operate-and-Transfer basis, funding out of own national resources over a period of time against the NAC balance sheet or a mix of all those options. We are in the final stages of presenting options to the NAC board before the Minister of Works and Transport and ultimately the Cabinet can formally consider those.
SS: As part of the proposal, is there a consideration for a local partnership?
AA: The Public Procurement Act puts a premium on local participation in all public procurement exercises. We expect that the construction of a new airport is in all likelihood going to be on the basis of an International bidding process, however, local content will still be a key consideration in determining a winning bid.