Training centre power-less since October

04 December 2019 | Education

The Mashare Irrigation Training Centre in Kavango East has been without power since October, a situation that has led to employees being unable to perform their duties.

Staff who live on the premises are now forced to send their children to the bush to collect firewood for cooking, among a host of inconveniences.

The head of the centre, Immanuel Haihambo, said the power was disconnected by Nored during the last week of October, due to non-payment. Haihambo, explained the centre, situated about 50km east of Rundu, is mandated to offer irrigation training and seed multiplication, but is now unable to carry out its operations.

Since the pump station is not operational, no irrigation can take place, meaning no productivity can place at the centre.

Haihambo added that the 13 staff members show up for work and clock in and out as required, spending most of the time doing nothing.

“There is no work for us here, when there is no electricity. The pump station is not working, therefore, no work can be done. We are not happy with this situation,” Haihambo said.

He added they live with their families at the centre and the current situation has frustrated them.

He said their children collect firewood in the bush to prepare meals and they are also forced to dry their meat, in order to eat it on another day.

The same applies to bread and other fresh food.

“As you can see we are cooking outside, not because we want to, but because there is no electricity. How can they expect us to be happy going through such an experience?” he said. When Namibian Sun visited the staff accommodation two weeks ago, employees said they have no option but to adapt to this new lifestyle.

“This is our new life; as you can see I am eating dry bread, not because I want to, but because I have to,” a worker said calmly, before sipping tea.

The workers demand that the agriculture ministry urgently address their plight.



Ministry responds

Agriculture executive director Percy Misika told Namibian Sun the power at the centre was disconnected due to a N$120 000 payment owed to Nored.

“The Mashare Irrigation Training Centre is one of the few facilities that are affected by the power cut due to the non-payment of approximately N$120 000,” Misika said.

He said the ministry is currently reallocating funds to be able to pay ministerial accounts that are in arrears, including that of the Mashare Irrigation Training Centre.

When asked why the ministry is failing to pay its accounts, Misika attributed this to the economic situation in the country that is affecting government cash-flow.

With projects such as Namibia Agricultural Mechanisation and Seed Improvement Project (Namsip) and CRAVE dependent on the Mashare Irrigation Training Centre, Misika explained what has been achieved so far and future plans, such moving over to solar power.

Namibian Sun recently reported that the agriculture ministry's N$27 million state-of-the-art Kavango East regional headquarters has been without power for more than four months.

KENYA KAMBOWE

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