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Turf war undoes Walvis Bay COVID-19 treatment centre

Turf war undoes Walvis Bay COVID-19 treatment centre

Niël Terblanché

IN the midst of a turf war between the Erongo Regional Governor and Knowledge Ipinge, the independent Walvis Bay Constituency Councillor, Cleophas Mutjavikua was relieved of his duties and replaced with a youthful Neville Andre.


The appointment of Neville Andre by President Hage Geingob as the new Erongo regional governor occurred mere hours after the controversial Mutjavikua still attempted to explain his insistence on procedures that delayed the urgent construction of an emergency COVID-19 isolation and treatment centre at the Walvis Bay State Hospital.


The construction of the 150 bed isolation and treatment centre to assist possible COVID-19 patients got stuck in the crossfire where procedure and protocol were used as ammunition.


With all the logistics already in place and role players from the private sector in Walvis Bay ready to deliver elements of the facility, the centre was scheduled to be up and running this week. The only element of the facility that would have taken a while to get into place was the two oxygen generation plants that was still in the building phase.


However, the while still serving as Regional Governor, Cleophas Mutjavikua, insisted that the facility must be divided between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund to provide each town with a facility with an 80-bed capacity. As the challenges were being addressed by the parties involved more red tape was thrown into the process because of the governor’s insistence that the facility must first be discussed and approved by the National Disaster Risk Management body resorting under the Office of the Prime Minister.


Knowledge Ipiinge in his capacity as the chairperson of the Walvis Bay Disaster Risk Management Committee, made his discontent with the red tape known in a scathing letter addressed directly to Mutjavikua. In the letter he accuses the governor of deliberately dragging his feet because he was wholly unprepared to react to the possible COVID-19 disaster due to inadequate medical facilities in the region.


“My office has since January 2020 recommended that we coordinate and create a framework to combat COVID-19 both at regional and national level. To date my office is yet to receive a COVID-19 Response Plan for the region,” Impinge wrote in his letter.



Erongo Regional Governor Ipinge Walvis Bay Constituency Councillor Cleophas
RED TAPE: Cleophas Mutjavikua was replaced as Governor of the Erongo Region by Neville Andres by a decree of President Hage Geingob. – Photo: Contributed


The constituency councillor further accused the governor of continuously politicising the project despite the State of Emergency. Ipinge stated that the governor’s office attempted to present an updated emergency plan that was copied and pasted from elsewhere only when the Prime Minister called on them to do so recently.


“To present an update on a non-existent regional plan is incompetence and sabotage at the highest level towards our government’s COVID-19 response action. Your modus operandi, lack of governance and deception is a risk to the people of Erongo and Namibia at large,” Ipinge stated in his letter.


In a letter responding to Ipinge the regional governor stated that he complied with the national strategy by calling a meeting on 19 March after the State of Emergency was announced and that all constituencies with the exception of Omaruru attended to create a regional structure for a response plan.


“We compiled a strategy of adding more sanitation in informal settlements and more water points to increase hygiene. We also discussed the possibility of setting up isolation centres at the hospitals of Omaruru and Usakos as well as other venues,” Mutjavikuas said in his letter.


The regional governor stated that the Erongo Region’s report to the Prime Minister was hailed as one of the best.


At a gathering in Walvis Bay on Tuesday morning Mutjavikua said that all the modalities had be in place for the project to construct a temporary treatment and isolation centre in Walvis bay to go ahead.


“We first had to determine who will be in charge of the finances and who would be responsible for other key issues of the project. The project is finally ready to go ahead,” Mutjaviua said.


As a result neither the former governor nor the constituency councillor could give a specific date on which the two treatment and isolation facilities would finally be built and ready to receive COVID-19 patients in need of urgent help.


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