Lights out at three Windhoek schools

08 November 2018 | Education

At least three Windhoek schools are facing water and power cuts as a result of hefty unpaid municipal debts.

The education ministry has criticised the move as bad timing on the part of the municipality, given the year-end examinations.

Khomas regional education director Gerard Norman Vries yesterday confirmed that the education ministry owed the City of Windhoek “a substantial amount” but said the suspension notices came “at an inopportune time”.

He said grade 8, 9 and 11 learners are writing exams, while the grade 7 exams start next week.

Vries declined to confirm the exact amount outstanding. He said the amount due to the municipality would be disclosed to the media once it was formally agreed on.

He added that the ministry had received a tranche payment “to defray some of the accumulated arrears”, and had requested the municipality to put any impending cuts on hold.

He said an electronic fund transfer to the City's bank account was being processed and would be concluded by Friday. Reliable sources confirmed to Namibian Sun's sister publication Republikein on Monday that the education ministry had offered to make a down payment of N$15 million to stave off suspension of services.

So far Windhoek High School, Academia Secondary School and Concordia College have been served with suspension notices.





Vries said the reason for the high arrears had to do with the release of payment tranches by the finance ministry, via the education ministry, to the regional council, depending on the availability of funds.

He said the regional council typically paid creditors within five days from the date of receipt of payment tranches from the finance ministry via the education ministry.

The ministry's total budget for utilities in the current financial year is about N$27.1 million. This budget was not increased in the recent mid-year budget review.

Budget documents show that the total amount the ministry spends on utilities tends to be less than what is budgeted for.

In 2016/17, N$22.5 million was budgeted for utilities and about N$17.2 million, or 76%, was spent.

For 2017/18, N$19.01 million was budgeted for the ministry's utilities. Actual expenditure amounted to N$15.6 million, or 82% of the budget.

JANA-MARI SMITH

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