Quarantine gobbles up N$11.3m

29 May 2020 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES



WINDHOEK

To date, government has spent N$11.3 million on quarantine facilities, which include five-star lodges and meals, health ministry executive director Ben Nangombe has confirmed.

By Monday, a total of 1 602 people had been admitted into quarantine, according to health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula.

This includes a group of people who were initially placed in quarantine at Greiters Lodge and later moved to Okapuka Lodge, about 10 kilometres away.

Some people were also quarantined in the luxurious The Village Executive Suites in Windhoek's Eros suburb, while others were housed at the Hardap Dam Resort, Rock Lodge, Gross Barmen Resort and Zambezi Waterfront and Tourism Park.

Earlier this month, Shangula said a budget of N$1.1 billion had been earmarked for fighting the coronavirus, of which a total of N$727 million had been allocated so far.

Forensic audit

Meanwhile, the official political opposition, the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), has demanded a forensic audit of all money spent on the coronavirus as well as the N$8.1 billion stimulus package.

According to PDM’s Nico Smit, government must justify these millions when most people in quarantine have been huddled together in “pigsties” and rundown lodges such as Greiters outside Windhoek.

“What is the rationale of this quarantine when some people are put in five-star hotels while others must go home for self-isolation? What determines self-isolation? When we look at the about 2 000 people put in quarantine and we have used N$11 million, then we wonder where the money went. We will demand that this money must be audited.

“The Fishrot scandal is too fresh in our minds; billions of dollars that just disappeared without a trace. We will not let this happen again,” Smit said.

Pigsty

Furthermore, it has been revealed that those in quarantine at the state-owned Zambezi Waterfront and Tourism Park at Katima Mulilo had been without bedding for three days and were offered only a meagre breakfast.

This was confirmed by the ombudsman, Advocate John Walters, who said he was informed that there were many challenges at the resort.

“The breakfast [was] two slices of bread, a Russian and a boiled egg. They complained that the food is ice-cold and that there is no microwave because there are only two vehicles which are used to transport everything.

“They must use these vehicles to deliver food and other items at five places,” he said.

No toilet paper, sanitisers or blankets

According to one of the people quarantined at the Zambezi Waterfront and Tourism Park, who spoke on condition of anonymity, they were not even given toilet paper or hand sanitisers when they arrived.

“We had to use the curtains to cover ourselves in the evenings and only got hold of blankets after we had someone buy us two from Pep,” he said.

Nangombe said the situation has now improved.

“Going forward, the ministry will vet these facilities so that we do not have the same problems. We are calling on service providers not to let the ministry down,” he said.

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