Overpriced school furniture angers taxpayers

Martin Endjala

The procurement of school furniture which the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture (MOEAC) purchased for an amount of N$1 578, 600, has left taxpayers fuming to what they term as ridiculous and unacceptable.

According to purchase order documents seen by Windhoek Observer, which the ministry confirmed, 240 mattresses were procured. The ministry was charged N$1200 per learner chair, N$1500 per learner table, N$2 700 per teacher desk, N$2 500 per teacher chair, N$4000 for each laboratory tool and N$5 500 for the 120 bunk beds.

The school in question is the Himarwa Iithete Senior Secondary School, situated in the Kavango East region, in Rundu, which also has a hostel.

In response to this, National Council Member of Parliament Harald Kambrude told this publication that the prices are ridiculous and unacceptable.

“I mean N$5 500 for a bunk bed, I don’t even pay N$1200 for a bunk bed if you go to best deals, Lewis and all those places, you don’t even pay that for a bunk bed and mattresses.

I think this type of thing is a clear indication of fraud and dishonesty. I believe that it is high time that the minister starts to hold executive directors accountable for this kind of thing,” said the MP.

Kamrude argues that the EDs are the ones signing off these agreements, thereby questioning their lack of due diligence, he stated that before signing off and agreeing to such prices, EDs can pick up a phone and call other furniture places with better affordable prices.

The MP said everything that the government buys these days, prices are tripled adding that people working within ministries are ripping off the government, arguing that administrators are in cahoots with some of these companies.

Adding that this constitutes fraud, which the minister needs to address as in like yesterday.

Swapo Party deputy secretary for education, Culture and sport Hofni Iipinge, slammed the ministry for lack of accountability of state funds when it comes to spending.

“Our state fund is probably to enrich individuals than do what is expected to benefit our education at large. As a government, we should practice what we preach. I am personally shocked by the exorbitant price that has been spent by the education ministry on the items purchased from the local company in Kavango West region which in my opinion supposed to address same problems faced by many schools in the same region, “he said.

Iipinge stressed that something should be done to address the high level of corruption Namibia is facing through different ministries and private entities.

Arguing that sugarcoating should be the practice of the past because it is draining people’s energy by hearing things of this nature in today’s daily life.

“We need to tackle corruption aggressively and decisively, and people should be fired if they cannot account for state funds. The government should establish a better entity to curb corruption in our country.

It is very disturbing and disappointing when things are happening like this and putting our country in deep debt because of individuals. The country’s service delivery is in reverse due to corruption and mismanagement of state funds,” he said.

Iipinge is further demanding an explanation by the ministry to the public as to what transpired before agreeing to pay such scary prices to that local company, and why did they recommended it.

He is calling on the minister to summon its procurement offices to explain to the public what transpired because they owe the public a thorough explanation.

Iiping describes the purchase as unacceptable, unethical and an insult to the taxi payers. “We are all hungry and we all want to eat. We can’t afford to enrich individuals because that is against the fight of inequality in our country”.

The Executive Director of the ministry, Sanet Steenkamp confirmed that the purchase order was indeed issued by the ministry for the supply and delivery of seven school items, namely; 90 leaner’s chairs, 90 desks, three teachers’ chairs and tables, 33 science laboratory stools, 120 steel double decker’s bunk beds, and 240 matrasses, learners.

She revealed that in accordance with Section 32 of the Public Procurement Act, 2015 (Act No. 15 of 2015), five bidders were invited to submit quotations, and they were, Rucara Islands Investment CC, Katondo Trading Enterprises CC, Point Media CC, Forest Hill Investment and Zegamena Investment.

However, after the ministry’s procurement evaluation, from five to three, Point Media CC found that its quotation was attached, and all mandatory documents were attached and valid, with a bid of N$1.8 million.

She said Rucara Islands Investment CC offered the lowest price at N$1.6 million, but given the fact that the bidder did not quote for all the items, their bid was deemed non-responsive.

Equally, Katondo Trading Enterprises CC was also deemed non-responsive, as it did not attach a valid Social Security Good Standing Certificate.

In terms of section 55(1), the PC recommended the award of the procurement contract to Point Media CC, the bidder having submitted the lowest evaluated substantially responsive bid, which met the qualification criteria as specified in the bidding documents.

Steenkamp reiterated that all relevant legal processes as per the Public Procurement Act, were fully observed leading to the awarding.

Related Posts