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Villagers irked by hostel construction delay

2023-05-11  John Muyamba

Villagers irked by hostel construction delay

John Muyamba

KATJI NA KATJI – In March last year, the directorate of education in Kavango West, through the regional council, awarded a tender to two contractors to build two new hostel blocks for Katji Na Katji Combined School in the Kavango West region.

However, the site is abandoned, and the community is furious.

The hostel was initially supposed to be completed by 28 April, but that could not be achieved as the contractors abandoned the site in October last year due to non-payment, which was brought about by misunderstandings within the regional council. The school also has two hostel block,s which were previously successfully completed. But these are standing idle, waiting for the new blocks before they can both be handed over to the school.

“This hostel, which is standing idle here, was handed over for construction last year in March. As the school board and VDC, we were present when it was said that by this time, the construction should have been completed. But up to now ,our hostel is still not completed,” said Marcus Hamutenya, who is a member of the village development committee (VDC) and the school board chairperson of Katjia Na Katji Combined School.

The school has a population of 35 teachers and 971 learners, who are placed from pre-school to grade 11.

“We thought that in the near future, this hostel would rescue our learners who walk from nearby villages which are more than 10 to 15km away from school. These learners from faraway villages are now being accommodated at a fee in different homesteads. They are in unsafe situations, some are being abused and some are now going to shebeens as there is no parental control. All that is affecting their education. We thought at least if the hostel could be completed, it would help us prevent situations that have been happening for years,” he continued.

Hamutenya, who represented both the VDC and school board, said their wish is for council to resolve the issue and ensure the completion of the hostel.

When New Era visited the school on Tuesday, there were no construction activities going. The incomplete hostel blocks were under the protection of two employees - one from each contractor - to look after the facility.

“Council appointed two
contractors on site for the construction of a boys and girls’ hostel, respectively. The total capacity after completion of the new hostel blocks, including the two standing ones, is 336 learners,’’ said Mpasi Haingura, before he resigned as chief regional officer (CRO) for Kavango West to start a new job in the Erongo region.

He had told New Era that the causes of the delay was that in the initial drawings, the hostels supervisors’ rooms were omitted through oversight. The two contractors were then given a verbal instruction to construct two supervisors’ rooms, one at each hostel block. The contractors invoiced the council for the additional work, and him being the CRO and accounting officer of the council refused to approve the payment before getting the reports from all relevant staff members who were involved in that unauthorised transaction.

“The Public Procurement Act was not complied with by whoever gave the instructions without following the procurement process of issuing a variation order. But later, all reports reached my office, and internal disciplinary processes will be instituted against all staff members involved in issuing verbal instructions,’’ he observed.

“I am also at a  loss for words on how contractors who are equally familiar with the Public Procurement Act, Act 15 of 2015, as amended, can go to such extend of accepting and carrying out a verbal instruction that has a huge financial implication to the council,’’ Haingura stated, but could not reveal the financial implications.

He added that disciplinary measures will soon be taken against all staff members involved, and the contractors are expected to return to site as soon as possible once they receive council notification.

2023-05-11  John Muyamba

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