Namibia: Schlettwein Probes Drought Boreholes

THE Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform has launched an internal investigation into the drilling and installation of boreholes meant to mitigate the impact of last year's drought.

This to determine if the government was overcharged.

Minister of agriculture, water and land reform Calle Schlettwein in the National Assembly last week said it appears that the government was overcharged through contracts issued last year.

He was responding to questions by Popular Democratic Movement MP Ricky Vries on the number of boreholes drilled by the government during the drought relief programme last year.

Schlettwein said the investigation would therefore determine whether the figures charged by different contractors were "indeed justified or whether we were done in".

"If we compare these quotes with figures of drillers for private jobs, an average borehole will cost around N$60 000. It would appear we were done in," he said.

The government allocated N$570 million to help distressed farmers and communities through the drought relief programme.

This money was spent on the provision of food parcels, livestock management incentives to farmers and subsidies to crop farmers and water to vulnerable communities countrywide.

Of the total contingency fund, prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila earlier this year said N$249,8 million was spent on water provision through various regional councils.

Schlettwein said the government had planned to drill a total of 206 boreholes countrywide during the drought relief programme for the 2019/20 financial year.

Of these 206 boreholes, 166 were completed at a total cost of N$32 million - excluding the //Kharas and Kunene regions.

About 40 boreholes were not completed, the minister said.

A total amount of N$125 million was spent on the drilling, rehabilitation and installation of boreholes countrywide, Schlettwein said.

"The regional council came up with the implementation plan, did the whole procurement process and executed the drilling work.

"The ministry's role during the programme was to coordinate the whole process and offer technical assistance by conducting the siting of boreholes, drilling supervision and ensuring that the ministry's standards and regulation are adhered to," Schlettwein said.

Upon interrogation, Schlettwein said the government was extensively overcharged by private contractors.

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