OMUTHIYA – A Namibian Defence Force soldier, currently on operation in Okongo, has received a serious warning following the sharing of information on social media pertaining to his displeasure of their accommodation.
About 60 soldiers are on an operation in Okongo to provide demining services of ordinances in the area, where the council plans to expand townland.
One of them complained on social media about how the group felt swindled by the Okongo village council that offered them a lease fee of N$50 per day on a portion of land they are camping. This amount translates to N$1 500 a month.
However, the soldiers felt the rate was high, arguing that the place they are leasing is in the bush and lacks basic services, but this was refuted by the Okongo village council CEO Wodibo Sakaria Haulofu, who said the area has water and ablution facilities but conceded there is no electricity connection.
Meanwhile, NDF spokesperson Petrus Shilumbu said the soldier was identified and issued a stern warning for breaking the military principles and for failing to utilise the available channel of command when airing concerns.
“This member is well aware of the channels to air grievances, instead of running to the media. SO called him in for questioning and issued a warning. As we speak, he went back to the area of operation,” stated Shilumbu, further cautioning members to stick to protocols established.
On the other hand, Haulofu defended the lease fee, saying the soldiers should be thankful because that was a reduced rate from the initial N$80 that was set. He, in addition, said council selflessly constructed ablution facilities and water on council cost to the area on which they are camping.
“This is a site rental fee, which is gazetted under the local authority Act to charge any individual or organisation intending to occupy a piece of land. There is nothing wrong with that. So, they have basic services on land that needs to be paid for because flushing a toilet requires electricity to pump waste further, as well as for the water they are using. That’s among the reasons why the rental fee is in place and applies to any other,” explained Haulofu.
Besides, he said, the N$50 fee is nothing, compared to the S&T they are receiving, which tallies to over N$19 000 and includes danger allowance.
Furthermore, he said, council was billed for over N$600 000 for demining in terms of service, including fuel, S&T, allowances and battery for equipment used.