RUNDU – Fisheries minister Derek Klazen was shocked when he found that his ministry’s staff at Rundu have been running the office without water and electricity when he visited the regional office this week.
The ministry is renting space from the Namibia Industrial Development Agency (NIDA), which has not paid its municipal bills, and services were suspended by the Rundu Town Council last year.
Klazen is in Kavango East this week to attend the week-long aquaculture and inland fisheries internal consultation meeting, which is expected to iron out the challenges faced by the industry.
On Tuesday, the minister, along with his deputy and other ministry officials, visited the Rundu Head Office construction site and went along to also meet the Rundu staff at their current office building, had a chat with them and listened to their aspirations and their concerns.
“To my shock, when I arrived at our regional office, I found them in darkness. That was a troublesome issue for me. I’m really happy I came to see under what circumstances our people are operating, and I’m challenging all the staff of our ministry that we need to put heads together and try to better the situation for our people here,” he said.
Klazen said, in Windhoek, staff have all the luxury, while their brothers and sisters in Rundu are struggling to even charge a cell phone. That needs to stop, he said.
“For me, it was a very disturbing site when I visited our regional office in Rundu, and what I saw there was not good; it’s for many years that the ministry has attempted to complete the regional office. Suggestions were made over the years, and I believe that during the cause of this week, we will discuss how we are going to do it,’’ he noted.
Klazen further noted that to finish the idle regional headquarters, the ministry needs to build in phases, as they now need to re-look the original costing and bill of quantities, as prices have changed in the last 10 years since the construction initially started.
“Because it is coming now for 10 years, and imagine how prices have increased over the years,’’ he said.
Last year, the works ministry, who are in charge of the project, and a contractor, who was initially offered a contract to construct the fisheries ministry regional headquarters at Rundu about 10 years ago, appeared to have smoked the peace pipe – but to date, the construction site has only had the presence of a security guard.
Works minister John Mutorwa, along with his counterpart, the then fisheries minister Albert Kawana, last year visited the site to acquaint themselves with the abandoned project.
They also held a meeting with the staff of the two ministries to find a solution to complete the project.
“We visited the site to ascertain the status of the project and to collectively resolve the way forward to ensure the successful completion of the project. During the site visit, a background of the investigations into the abandoned project was presented,” Mutorwa informed New Era then.
After visiting the site, the two ministries resolved the tender to complete the construction of the office should be given back to Oume Construction, the original contractor.
Oume Construction was contracted in 2012 by the works ministry to construct the Rundu office at N$14 million.
However, work on the project came to a standstill after the ministry of works reportedly refused to pay the contractor due to unclear reasons.
This led to a dispute, resulting in the termination of the contract by the works ministry on 19 January 2015.
Africa Civil Engineering was appointed to work on the project on 6 August 2015 at N$16 million, but this contract was also terminated on 30 October 2018.
“He too encountered problems with payment and tendered rates. In his case, the principal agent last year recommended a revision of rates; however, it was rejected,” Mutorwa noted during last year’s visit to the site.
The disputes declared by the two contractors appeared not to have been dealt with fairly and transparently, as both contractors complained of non-payment and the inability of the consultant team to perform effective on-site supervision.
Once completed, the regional office will house fisheries inspectors, aquaculture personnel and inland fisheries researchers – and through improved public service delivery, both Kavango regions will be served. - email@example.com