January 25, 2008

Government to decentralise works department

Government property continues to deteriorate due to lack of maintenance by the various offices, the Minister of Works, Transport and Communication, Joel Kaapanda, has said. According to him, there was need to delegate functions to the regions in order for employees to take charge of their offices and ensure that the infrastructure is maintained. He said decentralisation of services would make workers accountable and would improve maintenance of services. "Namibia lacks a culture of maintenance. Things are dilapidating because there are no preventative measures taken by those in office," the Minister said. He added that once decentralisation has taken place, workers would learn to plan, budget and be more accountable. Presently, inefficiencies and malpractices are widespread, Kaapanda explained. "People fail to plan and organise, they budget from thumb-sucking. They sit in their offices and if there is no file to sign there is no work." This showed the degree of lack of planning, he added.
Kaapanda also proposed that each ministry should have a maintenance department that will be responsible for repairing any damaged property. In 2006, the Ministry came up with the "Operation Clean Up" campaign to rid the Government of all disused property. This included Government vehicles that were parked and depreciating in Government garages and elsewhere. At the beginning of the campaign, it was estimated that N$10 million would be earned through the auctioning of redundant goods such as vehicles. Surprisingly, the exercise exceeded initial projections as some N$35 million was earned, the Minister has revealed.
"There is nothing valueless. We need to improve in our service delivery, in looking after the property and in serving people with integrity and distinction," he added.
The decision to start auctioning Government property such as disused property comes hot on the heels of reports depicting scenes of neglected Government property. It is estimated that every year the Government incurs huge losses in monetary terms by not disposing of disused property as they depreciate in value. "We are always criticised for neglecting Government infrastructure. They say the Ministry is inefficient. Hospitals, schools and police are in a state of disrepair," the Minister said. Kaapanda said disused property should be disposed of through public auctions in time to enable the Government to collect potential revenue as well as to stamp out corruption and prevent theft of State assets. (New Era, Windhoek)

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