Windhoek – Government has given a directive that all schools in the Khomas Region transition to pre-paid electricity and water systems in a bid to cut costs, especially in the wake of ongoing water and energy shortages in some parts of SADC, Namibia included.
Khomas regional education director Gerard Vries said the directorate under Khomas chief regional officer Clemens Mafwila recently sent out a directive to all schools in Khomas Region, whereby the schools were instructed to make arrangements to transition to pre-payment electricity and water systems to reduce their exorbitant bills by January 1, 2017.
Although Vries could not divulge the amount collectively owed by public schools in the region, he said the amount runs into millions of dollars.
Asked how many schools have heeded the directive, he said at present only Hillside Primary School in Greenwell Matongo suburb converted to prepaid electricity.
“This school is a trendsetter in that it has been operating on pre-payment electricity since 2009. We want all schools in Khomas to covert to pre-payment water and electricity,” he noted.
According to Vries, since Hillside Primary School converted to pre-paid power, its electricity bill from 2009 amounts only to N$118 789, which is significantly lower than many schools that pay on a monthly basis.
He said the directive comes after the pressing drought and water restrictions in Windhoek, which have been a nagging problem for years. “So we want to reduce water and electricity consumption and the high cost of sustaining water and electricity bills, so the schools will be responsible for managing those accounts in future. It will mean water and electricity will be used sparingly and then budgetary allowances can be made for other priorities in education,” Vries explained.
Windhoek is currently experiencing a water crisis and residents are urged to save water. Windhoek’s underground water sources and surrounding dams are fast running dry. Hence, the municipality put in place restrictions on water use and penalties for overuse.
However, many school children still do not realise the value of water and power, as they tend to waste water without even thinking about it. Electricity wastage is not as big a problem as water wastage, but there are some learners and teachers, who still do not take into account the need to use electricity sparingly, as they apparently leave the lights on in the corridors for no obvious reason.
The water crisis is not only confined to Windhoek, as a week ago Rundu Town Council resorted to extreme measures by disconnecting water to 20 schools in the Rundu circuit over non-payment of bills, amounting to almost N$2 million. As a result learners had to be sent home.