The presidency could be left stranded after the department responsible for the maintenance of the presidential aircraft fleet has revealed that service providers -including fuel providers – have threatened to stop availing their services if outstanding invoices are not settled.
The leadership of the Ministry of Works and Transport heard last week from the department of Government Air Transport Services(GATS) how the precarious financial position within the department could ground the State aircraft. The information about the dire situation at GATS was discussed in a management meeting at the ministry.
The ministry is said to have assured GATS months back that the financial situation will be rectified. But by last week the situation had not changed.
The Patriot was unable to establish how much the department owes all service providers.
The ministry’s Permanent Secretary Willem Goeiemann confirmed the troubles at the department and the ministry at large but said he could not comment until he knows how much the department owes service providers.
Insiders said GATS officials expressed frustration during the meeting over the financial nightmare that President Hage Geingob’s work related travel schedule posed.
If indeed service providers decide to stop providing their services, it could force government to charter planes for the President or he should travel on commercial flights.
Geingob has undertaken several overseas and continental trips in recent months.
At least two Presidential sources said the situation at GATS should be rectified because the President must be ready to travel at any moment.
“As the chairperson of SADC, the President will be expected to attend regional events, which means he will travel more than ever. Some trips that he undertook he did not want to go, but the SADC responsibility placed on his shoulder requires him to travel. It is a pity that even the SADC related travels have to be paid for by Namibia, but there is nothing that can be done in that regard,” said one of the sources.
Geingob has come under immense pressure for his globetrotting ways. The Presidency has however always refuted those claims saying all his travels are of utmost importance.
The Patriot has it on good authority that the department has outstanding invoices and is also unable to send staff members for re-current training because training institutes declined to take them in due to unsettled bills.
The depleted purse at the department has also placed the department in arrears with the City of Windhoek. During the meeting, officials from the departments also alerted the ministerial leadership that the City of Windhoek has threatened to cut off both its water and electricity due to no payments.
There is also a threat from fuel distributor PUMA Namibia to stop fuelling government planes, due to unpaid invoices.
Fears are that the fuel provider might decide not to fuel aircrafts under the wings of the department. The department has watch of four aircrafts such as The Falcon 900B, which is a corporate jet available for the Head of State, Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, Government officials, parastatals and private business individuals.
The department also has a Learjet 31A, a corporate Jet which is smaller than the Falcon 900B with a maximum capacity of 7 passengers. This management tool is available for Cabinet Ministers, Government Officials, Parastatals and Business individuals, who prefer to conduct official meetings or do business in distant towns and return to their offices on the same day to work or conduct other businesses.
Another is AW139 Helicopter with a maximum capacity of 11 passengers available for the President, Government, Private Sector and the public. The other is the AS350B Helicopter, smaller than the AW139 helicopter and only available for the Government, Private Sector and the Public at large.