The Moshoeshoe I international Airport is in operational tatters as a result of millions worth of debt to the national power utility company Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) recurring from as far back as 2014, Newsday has learnt.
According to Airport Director Motsoaole Lesupi, LEC cut off power supply to the airport on Tuesday this week leading to a mishmash of services including water supply.
He indicated that, this is because the Ministry of Transport owes LEC between M2 million and M4 million accumulating from 2014.
“Yes the electricity was cut by LEC because we owe a lot of money accumulating from 2014. Because of the electricity cut, some of the machines used to generate water are not working because they are powered by electricity hence we do not have water as well,” he said.
Lesupi indicated however, that the Ministry is doing everything in its power to remedy the situation and ensure that the Airport goes back to its normal operation.
“This is temporary and in the meantime we are using generators when we have an airplane to land while the ministry is working to source funds to pay LEC.
“The Airport has been experiencing challenges from as far back as 2014, long before I even started working here. The problems started when our budget was cut and became insufficient for Airport expenses. Because of a cut budget, we are used to paying the little we can afford while consuming more than we have. For this financial year we had been given way less than we had asked for,” he said.
He indicated that, although budgetary allocations had been made for the refurbishment and rehabilitation of the Airport, it is worth mentioning that the budget for rehabilitation cannot be used to solve the problem at hand because it is not meant for that.
“Even though I cannot remember the exact amount allocated for the rehabilitation, we had asked for a budget of M500 million,” he said.
Meanwhile, weighing in on the matter, Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Transport Ntumeleng Ntšekhe confirmed that they had a protracted debt with LEC which has been accumulating over the years.
“I cannot really say the exact amount that we owe but it is close to M3 million. This is due to a limited budget we had been given. However, the Minister of Transport is working tirelessly to ensure that things go back to normal,” she said.
Ntšekhe disclosed that it is not only the Airport that is experiencing electricity cut but also the Transport Department offices in the Mohale’s Hoek district.
“It is not only about electricity but also we cannot offer licenses as a result of no resources,” she said.
She said the Ministry’s employees are always at work to serve the people but they sometimes cannot because of limited resources. But they are trying all means necessary to serve the nation while the Minister is doing all it takes to deal with their problems.
The Ministry of Transport was allocated M61.3 million for the 2021/22 recurrent budget and M15.6 million for capital budget by the Ministry of Finance.