Ongwediva — The rural and water supply division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MWAF) in Omusati and Ohangwena regions has been operating without power for months due to non-payment.
New Era understands the Outapi office has been without power for at least a year now, while Eenhana has been without power since February. Since the power was cut at both offices, officials at Eenhana have been forced to operate in the dark and to use their own resources, including their own airtime to perform work duties.
"Now the clients also call us on our cellphones, because our telephone lines have been non-functional since then," said an official at one of the offices.
An official at Omusati said the staff at the directorate of rural water supply was only able to make calls, receive and send emails from other sister offices of the Ministry of Agriculture at the town. "When they have things they want to do requiring electricity they usually go to the ministry's other offices," they said.
MAWF spokesperson Constance Mwilima could not confirm or deny the state of affairs at the two offices, because reports of the problem had not reached her office. "I do not know what the problem is; why the electricity has been off for that period, or whether it is true it has been off for that period," she said.
"But you know, we are going through an economic challenge. Things are taking long to be paid. There are also people whose travel allowances have not been paid, but it does not mean that it will not be paid." Mwilima said it was however unusual that a ministerial electricity bill had not been paid for so long.
Mwilima said the ministry paid cellphone allowances to some members of staff in the regions and encouraged officials to coordinate and assist their sister offices during these challenging times. "It may be challenging to move from one office to the other, but [lack of] electricity cannot prevent one from working because most of the colleagues in the region are field officials."