Govt Makes U-Turn On Import of Uniforms

HEALTH minister Richard Kamwi says his ministry has cancelled plans to buy uniforms for medical personnel from China and would consider giving the job to local firms, which he said are a disappointment when it comes to service delivery.

Kamwi announced last week that his ministry was buying uniforms for nurses and doctors in China, while ministry spokesperson Ester Paulus said early this week they had opted for China because Namibian companies do not manufacture the recommended fabrics.

Paulus also said the Chinese company, Beijing Angel Hospital Uniforms, had been selected to supply the uniforms.

Speaking in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Kamwi said his ministry was going back to the drawing board despite the fact that local firms disappoint when it comes to service delivery.

The minister also said the decision to backtrack on the import plans was caused by the public outcry, which he had listened to.

“We have consulted and we are going back to the drawing board, which will mean another delay of several months before the uniforms can be realised at the Ministry of Health and Social Services,” he said, adding: “Personally I am a listener. I listened to Namibians who aired their views, and now we start afresh.”

The ministry’s decision to initially ‘look east’ for uniforms came under scrutiny last Friday in the National Assembly during the health ministry budget debate where fellow ruling party parliamentarian, Isak Katali, said what the health ministry wanted to do should be the first and last.

But Kamwi said it was never the Ministry’s intention to go to China but the circumstances such as poor service delivery by local companies had forced them to do so.

“As an example, during the 2009 to 2011 tender, out of 63 (material) items, only 40 items were awarded because most companies could not meet the required specifications,” he said.

Kamwi further said of the two companies that had been considered for the job, one of them did not have sufficient capital to import adequate fabric for uniforms, and this resulted in the company failing to supply in the past two years.

The minister also said the problem of procuring uniforms and hospital materials is difficult not only for his ministry, but for the Tender Board of Namibia as well.

News about the government sourcing uniforms from China comes after a textile factory in Arandis was closed last month, affecting more than 400 jobs, mostly women. The firm owners said they had lost a nine-year contract with the Woolworths Group.

Source : The Namibian