NEW ERA 13 September 2011
Intaka wins oxygen contract
– TOIVO NDJEBELA
WINDHOEK – Intaka Technology Namibia has signed a N$55 million contract to supply and deliver oxygen and medical air to 32 State hospitals.
The contract was last year the subject of a World Health Organisation (WHO) investigation.
The signing of the N$11 million-a-year contract, spanning five years, signals defeat of competitors Oshimoko Medical Air, which, with French giant Air Liquide, took the awarding of the tender to Intaka to court, citing tender irregularities.
Oshimoko and Air Li-quide had co-applied for the tender in what would have been a joint-venture operation between the two companies.
And when Intaka, partly owned by young entrepreneur Knowledge Katti, won the tender, Oshimoko and Air Liquide took to the court, seeking an order for the re-evaluation and review of the entire process, as well as stopping government from signing the contract with Intaka.
But Intaka, which made headlines for the better part of last year after questions were raised about the quality of its products to the State – emerged ultimate victors from the contentious battle of supply.
Health and Social Ser-vices Minister Dr Richard Kamwi, under pressure after allegations emerged that Intaka was supplying oxygen of poor quality during its initial two-year contract with government, roped in the WHO to investigate.
The WHO raised issues with Intaka’s services and recommendations to amend the discrepancies identified.
Apart from looking into the quality of the medical oxygen supplied by Intaka, the WHO also recommended improvements in the medical air supply infrastructure to ensure that there is consistent uninterrupted supply.
Katti yesterday described as ‘nonsense’ suggestions that Intaka was supplying substandard oxygen to state medical facilities as widely reported last year.
Intaka currently supplies medical air to 60 State hospitals in South Africa and this, Katti says, is a serious vote of confidence that authorities in Southern African have placed in the company.
New Era has since learnt that, notwithstanding the WHO findings, Intaka has also been at the receiving end of underhand malicious attempts to ridicule it, mostly by its market competitors.
Katti produced a report compiled by Richard Matsi, an official at the Swakopmund State Hospital, who alleged that former Intaka employee Hans Iitembu, now a principal shareholder in Oshimoko, had been illegally collecting weekly reports on Intaka’s activities at the hospital.
Iitembu allegedly presented himself as an employee of Intaka and said he was collecting those reports from the entire region, Matsi reported.
Matsi said he reported the incident to the Acting Control Officer at the hospital, a certain B Nauseb, who then phoned Iitembu and told him that the manner in which he acquired the reports was ‘fraudulent’.
In a bid to clear his company’s name, Katti also availed a report from Onandjokwe hospital where it was indicated that the company’s oxygen supply was ‘sabotaged’ by unknown elements, leading to disruptions in supply.
Katti argues that a media report of his company’s alleged incompetence was an offspring of a well-orchestrated campaign by his competitors and business adversaries.
“I am portrayed as an illegal dealer, but I want to make it clear that I possess a university degree and I’ve been an A-student all my academic life,” he said.
“That’s why even when the minister brought in the WHO, I was not bothered because I know what we stand for and our track record speaks volumes,” a confident Katti said.
“The WHO reports talk more about the state of the supply infrastructure and consistent power failures,” he said.
The contract between Intaka and government addresses the WHO recommendations, the company said in yesterday’s statement.
Lawyer Dirk Conradie, who is representing Oshimoto in the pending court case, remarked: “I seriously don’t understand how things are working in this country.
“How can one allow the signing of the contract while there is a pending court case,” Conradie asked.