Several children in Omusati were left stranded in the cold without food for hours on Friday after officials of the cultural directorate failed to secure transport on time to a cultural celebration at Negumbo Senior Secondary School.
The event was held at the school over the weekend.
Sources said some learners, who were stationed at various centres in the region at 10h00 on Friday morning were only picked up at 05h00 in the morning on Saturday.
Some of the parents of the 27 learners from Oshikuku and Nuukata Primary School said the learners were picked up after 03h00 in the morning on Saturday by a truck, where they were waiting at the Oshikuku Constituency Office.
By 20h00 the bus was still picking up learners from Okaku, but learners from Dr Dumeni, Ondaka, Okalongo, Etayi among other schools were left waiting.
The organising committee allegedly failed to send a communique to the schools that they were experiencing transport shortages and so left the learners and school board members accompanying them to wait for hours.
A source, who preferred not to be named, said the officials referred the waiting teachers to an office number late at night, which is how the learned that a truck that was ferrying learners to the venue had broken down.
Sources claimed a bus and a truck were the only two vehicles that were arranged to ferry the learners to the celebration.
“We were only told later that they only had a bus and a truck, which had broken down in the process of picking up some learners,” related the source. When asked why there was such a long delay in picking up the learners a senior officer from the culture directorate, as well as the organiser of the event, Novata Iipinge, responded by saying: “Not today meme, we are busy” before she hung up.
When contacted a second time Iipinge asked: “What do you want now, are the learners not here now or what is the problem? We are busy,” Iipinge said before abruptly hanging up the phone again.
Parents expressed concern over the safety of their children and why the organisers had not communicated to the schools so that they can be fed, or be given alternative shelter while they waited.
“Instead the officials were rude when they were contacted regarding the situation,” reported a parent. The Chief inspector in Omusati Region Education Directorate, Laban Shapange, also expressed disappointment with the event organisers. Shapange said the organisers should have opted to pick the learners up the following morning, once they realised there is a problem.
“If they could have informed the region we could have organised a vehicle to ferry the learners, but we only received this information after seven in the evening,” said Shapange.
Shapange further said when Iipinge was contacted by the regional directorate she remained adamant that the learners stay put until they are picked up.
“I’m disappointed. This is just unfortunate that learners had to be left without food and water for hours and we also worry about their safe return to the schools,” Shapange said.