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Contractor disappears with N$4.9m drought money

An observation mission dispatched by the National Council, made up of members of the standing committee on habitat, has discovered that the Omaheke regional leadership failed to treat the drought situation as a matter of urgency.
This is despite President Hage Geingob declaring a state of disaster on account of the devastation the drought had caused all over the country.
Eagle FM yesterday set down with the deputy chairperson of the observer mission, Hon. Betty Kawula who made stunning revelations to the effect that a contractor paid to drill a borehole disappeared after the regional leadership paid him a whopping N$4.9 million.
“We had to look at how the drought relief funds were used. The borehole had to be drilled and some rehabilitated. They didn’t take this drought as an urgent. We were not satisfied with the implementation of their work. The driller took the money in advance and nothing was done,” said Kawula.
Part of the job was to drill and rehabilitate dilapidated water infrastructure for the provision of potable water for residents of the region.
Kawula said that her team found all materials assembled for this project dumped in a store-room.
She said the installation was supposed to be done in-house with the help of the community to dig ditches and clearing bushes.
Added to that no councillor in the region was informed about the progress of the drought relief program, no technical assessments were done while councillors had no knowledge about any remaining amounts of money from the drought relief fund.
None were informed, Kawula said.
So far, she said months after the money was handed over to the leadership in Omaheke, only 26% of the work has been done, exposing glaring incompetence, lack of treating the situation as urgent and zero transparency.
“Somebody released this money and somebody must be held to account,” she said.
This percentage of work done is reflected by the only nine boreholes that have been drilled while N$3 million has been utilized so far.
The standing committee has said that it will have to revisit the region.
Kawula said the Omaheke region is still reeling from the drought devastation especially in the Aminus constituency.
The governor advised the observer mission to seek clarity from the regional council.
Meanwhile, government equally distributed N$3 million among the region’s seven constituencies.
For the fight against the marauding drought, the Hardap region was allocated N$2.5 million in the first round, N$11.8 million in the second round while it used N$2.5 million was successfully used for the construction of boreholes.
Only two were not completed.
This is despite the fact that Hardap has, all in all, eight constituencies and is vast.
Hardap received its allocation towards the end of November last year.
Out of the second allocation of N$11.8 million, the region only made use of N$137 770 for Mispa but the borehole installed there collapsed and a replacement consequently requested.
The slow pace of development in the region has been flagged by the observer mission while the local driller that had been roped in for the job did not have the statutory documents.
A full report of progress is expected by the standing committee.
For the Omusati region, there the execution rate has been regarded by the observer team as 100% while a remaining amount of N$69 152.58 would be diverted towards the maintenance of pipes, purchase of water meters when the need arises.
The region was given N$1 million at first and N$7.8 million later.
However, the region is bedevilled with some challenges comprising a shortage of specialized staff such as hydrologists, shortage of water tankers and an ageing fleet of cars.
Findings in Oshakati were that an amount of N$1 million was successfully used while all projects had a 100% execution rate.
In the Oshana region, a total of N$9 million was used to fight drought from the N$23 million received which resulted in a surplus of N$17 million.
Over to the Zambezi region, the rehabilitation of old infrastructure was done in-house with procurement done locally and outside Katima Mulilo.
Kawula said 22 boreholes were working with 11 having been 100% completed.
The region had been given N$3 million the first round and N$19.2 million came later.
Contractors roped in to drill boreholes were drilling two per day.
In the Kavango East region, the observer mission reported that N$3 million was received for rehabilitating 14 boreholes with all projects have been 100% completed.
However, the procurement method there delayed progress.

Julia Heita

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