Omuthiya – Oshikoto Regional Council says it will go ahead with the distribution of drought relief food using private trucks, despite a directive from the Office of the Prime Minister to stop such practices.
The directive from the Office of the Prime Minister was issued due to financial constraints and it was suggested the regional council should rather make use of government services.
The regional council has been hiring private trucks to distribute drought relief food to different centres of the 11 constituencies due to inadequacy of vehicles, considering the terrain of the region is only accessible to big vehicles with four wheel drive.
The total amount normally spent on these forms of transport remains unknown, but the trucks – approximately 11 of them – are paid N$20/km each, while damages and costs that include fuel, maintenance and subsistence and travel allowance (S&T) or other related costs, are footed by the private truck owners.
In a letter dated December 27, 2016 Nangula Mbako, the permanent secretary in the OPM’s office, said the decision to discontinue the use of private trucks was made to reduce huge amounts of money spent on private trucks compared to government transport.
“Oshikoto Region has been pointed as one of the regions constantly employing private trucks, hence a need to consider government or other forms of public transport,” it was stated in her letter.
“Our office came to learn that options for using government trucks and other public transport are still a viable one for Oshikoto Regional Council,” the letter stated, requesting that an urgent Regional Disaster Risk Management
Committee meeting be called to discuss the matter with all stakeholders to take an informed decision.
The meeting took place on Wednesday, where it was decided the council will continue with the programme for the time being, while they engage on the matter, citing the need for food to be delivered to communities and the dire situation on the ground.
It was also noted that the roads are bad in some places and inaccessible to small bakkies, hence the preference for trucks.
“We’re not against the directive, but we’re looking at the situation on the ground within the region, especially that we don’t have enough trucks. We will still continue engaging with the OPM,” said Oshikoto Regional Governor Henock Kankoshi.
He said they have been promised two trucks from the Ministry of Defence, adding that they have also been waiting for trucks from government, but could not confirm the number to be availed. The council currently has around 11 000 bags of maize in its storeroom to be distributed, with the prospect of receiving a further 48 000 bags.
“While we’re busy distributing in the constituencies, we’re also going to look out for any emergencies that might break out to be catered for, using the bakkies at each of the constituency offices. I, therefore, urge communities to always come forward and report such emergencies to the councillors’ offices so that they can be assisted on time,” Kankoshi advised.