Covid-19 and the measures to curb its spread have impacted the operations of the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
In an interview with New Era, senior public relations officer in the ministry Andreas Simon said they face various challenges, especially during this time of the devastating pandemic.
“The ministry is responsible for attracting private investments in resource exploration and development through the provision of geoscientific information on mineral and energy resources. It is a public-serving ministry. As a result of the pandemic, the ministry cannot operate at full capacity,” he stressed.
They, however, implemented a Covid-19 work-from- home programme, which is aimed at minimising close contact and to ensure work continuity. “The workplan further aims to safeguard the health of staff members, while endeavouring to continue providing services to the nation. Although the work-from-home plan has been implemented, the ministry is still limited. We have fewer staff on the premises, and the rotation issues surely affect how we serve our clients,” he observed. Simon said their clients often cannot reach them because some of the services, such as the analysing and identification of samples, printing of maps and payment systems, cannot be centralised.
“Another challenge is that we have staff with underlying conditions. These staff members would have to work from home. This also leads to staff shortages. So, we need them on site, but we cannot have them at the premises because we have to prioritise their health,” he added.
Simon further explained that the limitation on travel creates difficulties for the ministry to gather geoscientific information. The pandemic has limited them as some staff members also tested positive for Covid-19, and thus limited their ability to travel into the field and to continue work.
“The increase in case numbers at the ministry has also affected the flow of work. Fortunately, the ministry has not recorded any deaths. It has, however, recorded 50 cases with four active cases,” he continued.