A Chronic shortage of staff and vehicles at the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) in Maun is feared to have undermined the department’s effort to control the spread of foot and mouth disease in the Ngamiland District. The deepening gaps in workforce service and service vehicles has reached crisis levels with the department operating with a deficit of 25 frontline extension officers and 10 departmental trucks which are in bad shape and have been grounded, Assistant Minister of Agriculture Oreeditse Molebatsi was told this week. The staff shortage has resulted in a huge backlog in the payment staff subsistence allowances which now date back to nine months.
The situation has been aggravated by shortage of fuel at the three CTO fuel stations of Maun, Gumare and Shakawe which makes it even more difficult for the department to deliver services. On the issue of delays in payments, District Agriculture Coordinator Obed Mabutho said they are equally concerned as Heads of Departments. He said unpaid claims have accumulated to more than P3 million, and promised to work on clearing the backlog soon. “Because of this backlog, we have considered engaging the services of administrators from other departments for assistance and we might as well have to work on weekends, considering the work load.
The issue of transport shortage is however a difficult one as it is impossible to have vehicles at all sections. This therefore means we will in the meantime share the few which are available”, he said. Out of their ministry, Mabutho said the North West District Council has always assisted with their fleet whenever they are available. Meanwhile Molebatsi said although still in talks, government has decided to decentralize C.T.O probably in the next financial year, adding that once that is in place, they will have their vehicles attended to in the most suitable times. “You also need to work on and adhere to your schedules.
Your customers are always complaining that they are not paid on time. This is wrong because now you deliberately halt government programmes and suffocate the system. You also need to work harmoniously with farmers because as we speak they are not impressed by delays on your part. Our Ministry has been ranked amongst the worst performers; this therefore makes you bad performers. I therefore trust that because we have discussed similar issues before, you will try and better the situation”, he stated.