Fisheries' vehicles grounded for nine days

09 Oct 2013 14:40pm
By Paulus Shiku
KEETMANSHOOP, 09 OCT (NAMPA) - Employees of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources in the regions have not been able to travel as needed for work as the usage of petrol cards for their official vehicles was suspended on 01 October.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Fisheries, Ulitala Hiveluah issued an internal memorandum to all directors, deputy directors and heads of divisions in the regions to inform them about the suspension of all petrol cards “until further notice”.
“This memo serves to inform you all that petrol cards for the ministerial fleet will be suspended by the end of business today until further notice. Directors, deputy directors and heads of divisions are requested to cancel all trips, and to inform those in the field to return to duty stations,” reads the memorandum as seen by Nampa on Wednesday.
Ministry employees who spoke to this news agency on condition of anonymity from the Omusati, Erongo and //Karas Regions said their work has hampered as they cannot drive out to visit sites or attend workshops.
Other affected regions are Oshana, Kavango, Zambezi and Hardap.
“Now that we are not travelling to the dams to inspect them, we fear that illegal fishing might take place,” said one source.
Another employee said they still do not know when the situation will revert to normal.
Approached for comment on Wednesday, Fisheries’ Minister Bernhard Esau said he was briefed about the situation on Tuesday.
He said the suspension was caused by the overdrawing of transport funds from the ministry’s bank account at First National Bank of Namibia (FNB).
Efforts to get more funds to pay the bank on time were then delayed, leading to the suspension of the petrol cards.
Esau said this is an administrative error, as arrangements to get money from the Ministry of Finance to pay the bank and allow vehicles to be filled up were not made on time.
He, however, explained that a Treasury authorisation warrant, which allows the transfer of funds from the Finance Ministry to FNB, was approved on Tuesday.
“This means that the situation will be back to normal before the end of this week. I have given them a day to sort out the situation, and I trust it will be done,” he indicated.
Asked whether the suspension of the petrol cards might have led to the delay of crucial trips and work in the ministry, Esau said he will travel to the coast on Thursday to assess the situation, as well as get reports from other regions to see how big the impact of the suspension was.
“I will have to go down there myself to assess how much impact the situation has had on our work. Only then will we be able to say whether it is serious or not,” he stated.