No building plans submitted for Walvis Bay Airport terminal project

With the completion of the new terminal building of the Namibia Airports Company (NAC) at the Walvis Bay International Airport only weeks away, the project hit an unexpected snag. It was established no building plans were submitted to the Walvis Bay municipality for approval for the new terminal building, which means no completion certificate can be issued by the Department of Roads and Building Control of the municipality of Walvis Bay. Last minute efforts are now made by the contractor to submit the building plans for approval.

This completion certificate is crucial as future tenants of commercial space at the new terminal building need this certificate to obtain trade licenses or to connect services like water, electricity and telephone lines respectively of the Walvis Bay municipality, Erongo RED and Telecom Namibia.
A concerned future tenant contacted namib times this week after an article appeared in an edition of the newspaper of last week reporting on the latest progress with regard to the new terminal building. “This is a milestone project for everyone with an interest in Naibia, but I am concerned as an application for a trade license at the local authority was turned down because there is no completion certificate from the landlord (NAC). Closer inspection increased my worries, as there were no building plans approved which means no completion certificate can be issued”, this tenant explained. Anonymity was requested, as the person do not want to jeopardise relations between his future business at the airport and the Namibia Airports Company as his landlord.
“No approved building plans means no completion certificate. No completion certificate, no services,” a municipal official explained this week. Adding this is not a unique requirement, but a standard requirement for anyone who erects a building in any urban area in Namibia. The official later returned the call and explained the Namibia Airports Company as well as the architect MacKintosh & Lautenbach Architects and the contractor New Era Investments are currently in the final stages of submitting the building plans. If no hassles are detected the plans could be approved within two weeks, it was explained.
A second opinion sought, a municipal official with practical experience in building control explained the Namibian Government is not subjected to local authority building regulations. Plans for new buildings or changes to existing structures is nonetheless submitted “as a matter of professional courtesy”. The State is as a matter of fact not obliged to submit building plans, but in the case of parastatals, the same rules apply as for any property owner submit building plans.
“We understood the land was still State land when the renovation project at Walvis Bay Airport commenced. However, in the meantime it was transferred to the ownership of the NAC and that changed the legal landscape in favour of the municipality with regard to the submission of building plans”, this official further explained. He referred any specific questions as to the plans that need to be submitted or on the terminal project itself to either the municipality’s public relations department or the NAC. He was sharing his experience of building requirements in general as he would share with any member of the public lodging inquiries.
At the architects MacKintosh & Lautenbach it was explained that building plans would indeed be submitted now, in order to obtain the necessary completion certificate. It was not foreseen that the building plans would be rejected, as structural-, civil- and other engineers were involved in the development of the plans and a quantity surveyor oversees the project.
“We don’t regard the current situation as a threat to the completion of the project. The issue of submitting building plans to a local authority where construction takes place on State land remains a legal grey area. We nonetheless view it as important to comply with local authority requirements as the local authority has an important role to play with regard to health regulations, registration of businesses and the provision of services to tenants at the new terminal building”, a senior stakeholder at the architectural firm said yesterday.

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