THE Ministry of Home Affairs obtained an urgent court order on Friday last week, to interdict Nikuv International Projects (NIP) from disrupting or interfering in the production of Lesotho passports.
The Israeli firm — which was controversially awarded the contract to produce Lesotho’s electronic passports and Identity Documents (IDs) two years ago — had threatened to stop printing the passports unless government forked out M38 million for maintenance services provided since February this year.
However, according to a statement released by the Home Affairs ministry yesterday, government had sought the court’s interdict on Friday last week — a day after the Lesotho Times had broken the story of Nikuv’s threat.
“Admittedly, there are some areas of disagreement relating to various aspects that impact on whether the government is in arrears with payments to Nikuv, as the company contracted to assist the Ministry of Home Affairs, with the production of Identity Documents.
“There are also considerations on whether Nikuv have performed all their obligations.
“Both parties have, however, committed themselves to bona fide discussions aimed at finding a mutually agreeable way forward.
“Those discussions have already started and the parties are guided by their legal advisors.
“At the same time, last Friday, 8th August 2014, the government obtained an urgent court order to interdict any possible disruption or suspension of service,” reads the ministry’s statement.
However, the statement would not give details of the interdict.
“It is not possible to publish details at this stage since legal proceedings over these matters are sub-judice.
“All attendant aspects are being carefully addressed in amicable discussions. If the discussions fail to resolve the issues, the next step will be for any remaining disputes to be referred to arbitration.
“Despite disagreements and the negotiation and arbitration process, passports and related services will carry on and any complaints by government or Nikuv will be responsibly addressed,” concluded the statement.