Govt. bodies take lead on abuse and drug use

MK
By Mata'afa Keni Lesa, 15 March 2019

Listen up folks. A couple of government bodies have come up with some good initiatives not just for the general safety of employees at the work place but also to do away with the rampant abuse of public assets we so often see in this country.

The government bodies in question are the Electric Power Corporation (EPC) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE). 

We believe they deserve a round of applause. It’s good to see them talk about these initiatives publically.

Now lets start with the EPC. A few weeks ago, the Corporation moved to curb the abuse of Government assets by appealing to the public to report EPC drivers who are reckless with the Corporation’s vehicles. The man behind the move is General Manager, Tologata Tile Tuimaleali'ifano, who made the point in a public notice.

 “The public is hereby advised to report to the Electric Power Corporation any of our vehicles that are speeding on the road. The following information must be reported: vehicle plate number, location, date, time, type of vehicle and your contact details.”

Later during an interview with the Samoa Observer, Tologata said public servants have a responsibility to look after and treat government properties with the utmost respect.

“These are public properties and it should be well taken care of, hence the move by the Corporation,” he said. 

This week, EPC announced another first. This time, the initiative is in relation to dealing with drug use at work. According to Tologata, they are working on getting approval from Cabinet for mandatory drug testing to ensure safety. 

 “Safety is paramount and drug testing for EPC employees should be mandatory,” he said. Asked what compelled the organisation to introduce the policy, he said it is too risky for staff who are "high" on drugs to be working, especially around electricity. 

 “It is all part of the strategy to have a drug free working environment and also to assure the safety is paramount for the staff. We can’t afford to have staff members who are high working on the electrical line, it is dangerous."

Again, Tologata is absolutely correct.

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But the EPC’s thinking in relation to dealing with vehicle abuse and drug abuse at work appears to be influencing others in the public service. 

Take the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) for example that yesterday revealed they too are cracking down on staff who abuse government assets.

Like EPC, the MNRE has also sought help from the public, inviting them to report culprits who misuse the Ministry’s vehicles and other assets.

The Chief Executive Officer, Ulu Bismark Crawley, said monitoring the use of government assets is critical.

 “We have policies in place for such issues, such as monitoring and it a continuous effort to assure the vehicles are well kept by the staff and is not being abused for personal use," he said.  

 “During hurricane season, the Meteorology Division work around the clock to ascertain the information required from them, and this is from time to time depending on the circumstances.  

“This is applicable to our Water Resource Manager Division, they have to be working as well during the hurricane seasons and their job requires them to be on the road 24-7.”

Apart from that, members of the public have every right to be alarmed when they see an MNRE registered vehicle out and about any other time – other than the time they do their work.

But that’s not all. In the edition of the newspaper you are reading today, Ulu has also expressed support for EPC’s drug testing plan.

“For the safety of staff, we have to support such a move. This is all for safety reasons and we can’t go against that,” he said.

Well whether it’s for safety reasons or dealing with the abuse of Government properties, which often costs taxpayers thousands of their hard-earned money every year, it appears EPC and MNRE are definitely on the right track. There might be other Government bodies that have also undertaken similar initiatives which we are not aware of. 

Suffice to say, EPC and MNRE have set a fine example for others in the public service to follow. But it’s easier said than done so let’s hope they back up all this talk with meaningful actions.

Have a wonderful weekend Samoa, God bless!

MK
By Mata'afa Keni Lesa, 15 March 2019

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