N$30m splashed on rent
Government is spending nearly N$400 000 per month for rent, while the construction of its N$60 million Ohangwena education offices has ground to a halt.
02 August 2019 | Ministries
The works and transport ministry cannot explain why it allows the Ohangwena education directorate to spend millions a year to rent offices at Eenhana. The regional education directorate has been spending millions of taxpayer dollars since relocating its headquarters from Ondangwa to Eenhana. The Ohangwena regional council is unhappy with the situation that sees the education directorate spend N$395 000 a month on renting offices at Eenhana, while the construction of its N$60 million office complex has stalled with only 20% of the work completed. The Ohangwena education director, Isak Hamatwi, says the construction project is under the supervision of a consultant, with the works ministry as the employer and overseer of both the consultant and the contractor.
“It should be noted that it was not that the contractor abandoned the site, but the contract was terminated by the ministry of works and transport due to poor workmanship. Hence, as to what the plans are with regard to the construction, the works ministry will be in a better position to respond to that. The obvious is that the tendering process will be restarted,” said Hamatwi. “The ministry of education, arts and culture, the Ohangwena directorate in particular, is just a user which was merely waiting for the keys of the office complex to be handed over for them to move in. The termination of the contract means that the directorate's stay at the current rented office complex has been prolonged further for an indefinite period.” Hamatwi said the total space being rented in the office complex is 3176.26 square metres, which consists of 60 offices.
The majority of the offices are shared by more than two officials, the most being six officials in one office at human resources, professional development, general services and financial management. He said there is also a boardroom, human resource registry, a mini computer lab and a tiny kitchen space.
Works ministry spokesperson Julius Ngweda could not respond to Namibian Sun's enquiries, except for saying that the contract to rent offices at the Greenwell Complex expired this year, but was renewed because the construction was not yet completed.
In October 2012 the Ohangwena education directorate moved to Eenhana from Ondangwa. Before they moved, 108 employees were each paid a lump sum of N$50 000. Managers, including the current education ministry executive director, Sanet Steenkamp, who was the regional director at the time, each received N$100 000.
“By the time the directorate moved to Eenhana, the staff complement at the regional office was 111 staff members. The payments to staff members were not flat amounts as you put it, but people were paid a daily rate (Rate 1) for six months (132 working days, minus leave days). The money totalled N$7.5 million,” Hamatwi confirmed.
“Furthermore, the authorisation to pay the given rate was given by the then permanent secretary at the advice of the Public Service Commission and was done in terms of Chapter F (1.3 & (1.4) of the Official Gazette dated 01 April 1981 as well as in terms of Public Service Staff Rule D.III/I 6.7 as cited in the letter from the Public Service Commission, dated 25 April 2013.”
It was also reported that employees - many of whom used to live at Oshakati, Ongwediva or Ondangwa – used to get free bus transport to the new offices at Eenhana every day.
The education employees travel about 200 km a day to and from Eenhana on buses owned by Namibia Contract Haulage (NCH).
Steenkamp refused to comment, referring all questions to Hamatwi, who was the deputy director of planning at the time.
In his State of the Region Address (Sora), read on his behalf by regional council chairperson Ericsson Ndawanifa, Ohangwena governor Usko Nghaamwa expressed disappointment at the construction of the education office complex and the Onanghulo clinic.
“These two projects are draining government of a lot of money, and they continue to do so, especially the education directorate, as staff have been renting offices at a very high price. However, the project has been abandoned and it is still not clear when it will resume,” Nghaamwa said.
“I am therefore calling upon entrepreneurs to measure their capacities and not just go for any project that comes their way. Government resources are limited and need to be jealously guarded by patriotic Namibians, as these are public resources that need to sustain the whole nation.”
COSTLY: The Ohangwena education directorate offices at the Greenwell Complex at Eenhana
PHOTO: ILENI NANDJATO