7 February 2013

Namibia: Spanking New Vehicles for Councillors

Rundu — Government is to splash out on vehicles for all 107 constituency councillors for an undisclosed sum to ease their transport woes and improve service delivery within their constituencies.

With councillors receiving a motor vehicle allowance of N$6 558, government spends an estimated N$701 741.31 per month on motor vehicle allowances for the country's 107 councillors - translating into N$8.4 million per annum.

"The Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development is in the process of buying GRN vehicles for all constituency councillors. It is against this background that each councillor should give an indication whether he/she is willing and interested to be allocated a GRN vehicle before the ministry ventures into this business," said the ministry's permanent secretary (PS) Sirkka Ausiku.

Last month the PS circulated a letter to all chief regional officers in which she requested all councillors to indicate whether they want a GRN vehicle and thus forfeit their monthly vehicle allowance or opt to continue receiving their allowance and meet their own transport needs.

Regarding the amount government plans to spend on each car, the permanent secretary said her office will be guided by specifications from the Ministry of Works and Transport, adding that the ministry is looking at buying Toyota Hilux 4X4 vehicles.

"The priority of the ministry is first to purchase vehicles for the 13 chairpersons of management committees of the regional councils for official purposes. The ministry is currently finalising its budget after receiving the 'ceiling' from the Ministry of Finance, therefore I cannot provide you with the figure," said Ausiku.

New Era has it on good authority that the plan to procure the new fleet was initiated by the ministry's former minister, Jerry Ekandjo.

Asked whether government will be responsible to employ drivers for the councillors who prefer to make use of a government car, Ausiku said consultations are underway with the Office of the Prime Minister in that regard.

With the next elections less than two years away, councillors will be mindful that the onus will rest upon them to settle the monthly installment of their vehicles should they fail to retain their positions in the next polls - as they will forfeit their monthly allowance should they not be reelected.

"The cars will belong to the constituency office. Therefore if we buy a government car for the constituency then that councillor must give up the allowance," she explained.

Having circulated a letter to consult the councillors last month, Ausiku said she is still waiting for a response from them (councillors).

"After we get the response we will involve the OPM (Office of the Prime Minister) and as technical people we will have to give a final submission to the minister to take it up. We cannot just make decisions without doing the nitty-gritty studies," she said.

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