by Ester Mbathera

WALVIS Bay urban constituency councillor Knowledge Ipinge has ordered a transport company and a bank to close their premises at the town due to fears of the spread of the coronavirus.

Knowledge Ipinge

In a letter to the management of FP du Toit Transport company, Ipinge said he was ordering the closure of the company’s depot after a truck driver who was quarantined there tested positive for Covid-19 at the weekend.

Ipinge said he was acting “through the power vested in me as an authorised officer in terms of section 33 and 34 of the Disaster Risk Management Act of 2012, to protect public health”.

The Disaster Risk Management Act states that the director of disaster risk management in the Office of the Prime Minister may during a state of national disaster designate authorised officers to perform some powers under the act. Those powers include the power to require people to provide information to the authorised officer, to require people to evacuate themselves from a location, and to requisition property.

Cabinet secretary George Simataa, who is also the chairperson of the National Disaster Risk Management Committee, appointed Ipinge as an authorised officer in terms of the act for a period of six months on 31 March.

In his communication to the company, Ipinge demanded that FP du Toit Transport present to him its Covid-19 business continuity plan, a report on the disciplinary hearing that led to the dismissal of two employees of the company, and a list of everyone who visited the company’s depot at Walvis Bay since 11 May.

Ipinge’s letter comes after one of the company’s truck drivers tested for Covid-19 on Sunday.

A similar letter was written to Standard Bank, ordering the institution to close a branch that was visited by the positive truck driver.

Ipinge demanded the closed-circuit television footage from the bank as well as a list of bank employees and clients who visited the financial institution since 12 May.

Standard Bank has two branches at Walvis Bay.

“The reason for me requesting these documents and video footage is to ascertain whether the driver wore a mask, if he was sanitised and if there is a possibility of him spreading the virus to members of the public,” said Ipinge.

The driver is one of the two employees that FP du Toit Transport recently dismissed for breaking quarantine regulations on 12 May.

FP du Toit chief executive officer Stephan Terblanche said the company has already requested its employees who might have come into contact with the truck driver who tested positive to go into self-quarantine.

“The health officials who are doing contact tracing have already contacted some of our employees and asked them to self-quarantine at home,” said Terblanche.

The Namibian also understands that FP du Toit has handed over the requested documents to the councillor.

Standard Bank branches at Walvis Bay yesterday continued to operate and The Namibian was told the bank’s risk manager is consulting the Erongo regional director on the next step to take.

With the first lockdown, Standard Bank told the media: “Given the risks of infection attached to public spaces, we urge clients to minimise physical meetings and visits to branches and to rather make use of our “cash-less” digital channels such as internet banking, Standard Bank App, mobile banking and PayPulse.”

Meanwhile Standard Bank has replaced the entire staff complement of its Walvis Bay branch that was on duty in the branch between 12 May 2020 and 23 May 2020.

The change of staff came amidst fear of possible Covid-19 contamination of the branch which rendered service to the lorry driver who tested positive for the virus last week.

“The safety and well-being of our clients and our employees is our foremost priority, so is curbing the spread of Covid-19. As part of our business continuity management, we replaced the entire staff complement that was working in the branch between the 12th of May 2020 and the 23rd of May 2020,” Standard Bank’s head: marketing and communications, Magreth Mengo, in a media statement.

Mengo added that the bank took precautionary measures and conducted a disinfection and decontamination of the branch on 25 May in preparation for business opening on Monday 26 May.

The driver visited the bank on 12 May 2020, from 12:20 and left the branch at 13:50. According to Mengo, the bank’s CCTV footage showed that the lorry driver was sanitised and he was wearing a mask before he entered the branch and throughout his time in the branch.

The bank employees who have been working at the branch have since then been put under quarantine and Covid-19 testing will be done on all of them.

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