Lüderitz on the Edge

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Alleged financial misappropriations at the LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz Town Council have reportedly almost brought the Town Council to its knees. It is feared that the current financial state of affairs at LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz, if not solved urgently, would have serious consequences for the entire operations of the authority. New Era’s source said the Acting Chief Executive Officer, Thomas Shipepe, in his recent submission to management, raised concern about a number of issues related to the operations at the town council and the use of funds for different divisions. The report outlines a number of matters of concern and reveals that the council has lost money in certain ventures. The prison sewage system is reported to be an example where the council has allegedly squandered money recklessly. The source explains the sewage system was destroyed during the LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz floods in the past few months, a situation that called for maintenance. Windhoek Consulting Engineers recommended proper designs but some officials within the council disregarded them and implemented their own designs. With the introduction of the new designs, the council will have to again spend more money to rectify the problem. He could not reveal in his submission the money needed for the project. He warned;” … councillors that the council is sitting on a time-bomb waiting to explode.” The town’s infrastructure, maintenance and pump stations are, according to the source, poorly maintained without any proper action being taken to address the situation. Similarly, the water and sewage network is constantly under pressure and no corrective measures are in place. The water reservoir at informal settlements is said to be overflowing on a regular basis and still there seems to be no end in sight in the over flow. The problem, the source added, is due to cheap materials used to transport water to residential areas. Whenever pipes burst, a large amount of water is lost before maintenance is carried out. Debt collection from the town’s residents remains a problem. This crisis has been worsened by some councillors who allegedly interfere with debt collection and payment. The debt collection over the past few months has shown no sign of improvement despite earlier signs of commitment by the council’s customers. “The momentum now seems to have been lost and this is one area of operations that cannot be overemphasized in terms of importance”, said Shipepe in the report. He continued; “It is rather unfortunate that there are councillors and officials who feel that certain institutions and individuals can continue to rake up significant debts with the LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz Town Council and not having to pay as required.” Regarding another issue, some officials at the council allegedly choose to use the influence of councillors to have their self arranged travelling approved and financed by the council. In the report, Shipepe warns that the Council will, as a matter of principle, re-evaluate all trips previously undertaken during the financial year 2005/6 to establish whether the stated trips were legitimate and indeed on the town council’s business. “It is difficult for the office of the chief executive officer to take any action against any employee if council/management has become the stumbling block preventing such action from being taken,” added Shipepe. Despite the aide memoir in the Local Authorities Act that councillors report to the Chief Executive Officer any irregularities, there are some councillors who are aware of money being misappropriated but have undermined the authority of the relevant office. Employees at the town council rarely report matters of urgency to the CEO as a result; most issues that need to be addressed have not been attended to. Shipepe urged that lack of performance, incompetence and inefficiencies be reported to his office. “It is simply not acceptable for an organization such as this to continuously make the same mistake by taking advice from employees which time and again has proven to be costing the council dearly. The council will have to bear the financial consequences of these mistakes and ill advice,” Shipepe added. Like most institutions, the council has a serious lack of capacity in some divisions with most of its officials having no adequate training and qualifications. This has led to most divisions being in disarray, and, unless action is taken, divisions will continue to be run incompetently, ineffectively and inefficiently. Efforts to have Shipepe’s comment on what the Council is doing to rectify some of these problems provided futile.

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