Minister of Works and Transport Alpheus !Naruseb says government is finding it hard to maintain State properties in the regions, citing a lack of funding and expertise as primary reasons.
!Naruseb was responding to questions in the National Assembly from Republican Party lawmaker Clara Gowases last Thursday. She wanted to know how of the money budgeted to maintain government properties is actually utilised.
“The maintenance of government property in the regions remains a challenge due to the fast deterioration of unattended existing facilities, largely as a result of inadequate funding,”!Naruseb said.
In 2012 government assets were valued at N$24 billion and required an annual maintenance provision of about N$500 million. At the time the maintenance budget was N$142 million.
The minister further indicated that the recruitment of professionals to the regions is another challenge. “Registered professionals are committed to their existing jobs and are not interested to apply for vacancies advertised in the media,” he said.
The minister said the works ministry has worked out a maintenance unit structure, as well as a budget for the setting up of the units. He said the units cater for preventative maintenance at the institutions, which includes routine maintenance work, such as civil, electrical and mechanical.
“The role of the works department is that of the custodian of government property, attending to major repairs, structural failures, rendering technical assistance, setting standards and conducting regular quality inspections,” he said.
He said the official handover of maintenance functions to all 14 regions has been completed. Maintenance functions special bank accounts have also been opened for all regions, said !Naruseb, adding that operational funds are transferred from the ministry.
After Independence central government embarked on a drive to sell off government houses, in order to reduce the financial burden of maintaining the properties. Despite tenants of government houses paying minimal amounts way below market prices, government has often lamented the fact that those living in government houses have little interest in caring for the houses.
Government has houses in all regions, but most of them are in a deplorable state. Earlier this year, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts visited government quarters in the capital to determine their condition. They discovered that many houses allocated to government employees – mostly police officers, nurses and teachers – are sublet, overcrowded or vandalised.
In one such building in Eros, it was discovered that more than 10 students shared one room, while in another building in Ausspannplatz, more than five people were found squatting in a one-bedroomed flat.