KATIMA MULILO - Some officers of the Namibian Police’s Water Wing have raised concerns about not getting a danger allowance, like their colleagues in other units such as the Special Reserve Force.
The officers, especially boat skippers, also complained that although they are given life jackets, they are not well-equipped with other protective gear as they are exposed to dangerous animals such as crocodiles, snakes and hippos when patrolling Namibian waters.
“We feel we are not appreciated. We patrol dangerous terrains, and one has to get off the boat to push it. This is dangerous as there are crocodiles, snakes and hippos in the water which can attack us. What benefits do we have as a special unit? Other officers at special units are compensated due to the nature of their work,” said the officers, who do not want to be identified.
“We are facing a lot of challenges during the water operations. We want to hear why we are not valued. Do they think we are not at risk? If anything happens during our operations, we are held liable in terms of safety for all those on board.”
The officers - who are housed in tents at Katima Mulilo on the banks of the Zambezi River - further bemoaned the lack of subsistence and travel allowances, saying they go into the field without food.
“Sometimes we go with regional council officials who are well-equipped. They have their food and everything, but we don’t get anything. We end up begging for food while camping. We are told we can’t claim for S&T, as it’s our jurisdiction of work,” complained another officer.
Contacted for comment, Namibian Police spokesperson Kauna Shikwambi said on Friday that it is disappointing that their colleagues opted to report matters to the media, while there are existing internal structures where they could have raised matters affecting them and the organisation.
“Be that as it may, their concerns are well-acknowledged, and consultations can be made with the substantive government offices so as to address the issues of allowances, the procurement of PPEs (personal protective equipment) as well as recruitment of mechanics to the benefit of the organisation and the people we are serving,” she noted.
Shikwambi said by virtue of being police officers and especially operational officers, they are all working in harsh and challenging circumstances.
“But we vow to serve and to protect, irrespective of circumstances,” she added.
A provision is, however, made in the financial policy that allows for officers from specific divisions and units such as the VIP directorate, the Special Reserve Force division as well as the explosive control division to qualify for danger and risk allowances.
Shikwambi said the daily subsistence allowance is intended to reimburse staff members for reasonable expenses necessarily incurred on accommodation, meals and incidental expenses when absent from office or headquarters on official duty for more or less than 24 hours, either for local travel or for travel abroad.
“The colleagues, if and when they were dispatched or assigned to other regions for official duties and were not reimbursed, they are encouraged to make their submissions through their respective offices,” she urged.
Additionally, the spokesperson gave the assurance that all boats, namely the hoover craft, rubber duck and aluminium procured for water policing in the force are procured with all personal protective equipment such as life jackets and life ring ropes, which are allocated to the operators of those boats.
“If perhaps there is a shortage, then that is another issue that could have been communicated internally through the existing structures. I must also indicate that all skippers be it in fresh or seawaters, attend the basic safety course, including the basic mechanics course, before being deployed to the water policing operations. Therefore, they are well-equipped and skilled to handle any basic matters that may arise, including mechanical issues. Otherwise, experts and/or qualified mechanics are always brought in to render the necessary service,” she maintained.