Scientific research needs to be conducted to determine the side-effects of “vampire bats’ faeces”, following complaints by teachers and learners that they are suffering from respiratory problems after inhaling the bad smell of the animal excrement.
This is the view of an official from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism when he was approached for comment on the matter affecting some schools in Oshana and Omusati regions.
Oshitutuma Junior Secondary School in Oshikuku Constituency (Omusati Region) and Joseph Mbangula Primary School in Okatana Constituency (Oshana Region ) have reported an invasion of their institutions by the flying mouse-like creatures.
The Councillor for Oshikuku Constituency, Modestus Amutse, confirmed to Informante that the problem of bats at Oshitutuma JSS has been ongoing since 2003, but started to be troublesome in earnest in 2009 when one of the teachers started suffering from respiratory problems.
“This issue is a health hazard and I have reported it to the relevant authorities, including the Director of Health in Omusati region, who told me that they have no solution to the problem. We have discussed it many times in our Constituency Development Committees and made recommendations to the Ministry of Education, but so far no solution has been found,” Amutse explained.
He noted that at least five teachers are now suffering from respiratory problems and have been recommended by the doctors to use asthma medication in order to help their breathing. The principal, Katrina Amupolo, is said to have developed a hoarse voice which is refusing to heal. Local people suspect that all these health anomalies are caused by the unfortunate situation with the bats which have invaded the school. At least four classrooms are severely affected at Oshitutuma JSS; lessons are being conducted under trees for fear of being affected.
The Councillor says that when the Deputy Minister of Education, David Namwandi, visited his constituency to attend Cassinga Memorial Day recently, he also had a chance to visit the school and promised to follow up the matter with relevant go-
vernment insti-tutions. A source in the school board reports that the matter has been reported to the relevant education authorities, but nothing has been done about it yet.
Oshitutuma JSS offers grade 1-10 and has about 400 learners and 17 teachers. A similar situation has unfolded at the Joseph Mbangula Primary School where two classrooms are reportedly invaded by bats.
Apart from the bats, this school has been without water for a long time, despite having a water pipeline and a reserve tank.
Informante is reliably informed that the pipeline is not functioning due to a disagreement between Namwater and the Directorate Rural Water Supply (DRWS) regarding payment of the water account. The pipeline is linked to the DRWS which normally issues the bills, but the Ministry of Education does not accept such handwritten accounts from the local water committees on behalf of DRWS. Instead, they demand to have computerised account statements which were being issued by Namwater.
“When the Ministry of Education pays Namwater, the water utility company apparently does not transfer the money to DRWS. This is what we have gathered from the education authorities as causing the friction,” noted the source.
Approached for comment, the Senior Education Planner in Oshana Region, Paulinus Enkono, was in meetings in Windhoek but promised to comment by next Monday. His deputy, Christoph Petrus, was not reachable.
Concerning the bats, the Chief Warden Officer in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Amstrong Lukubwe, referred to his ranger, Mika Pashukeni, who in turn told Informante that there is no specific method to deal with bats other than to keep all parts of the building closed.
“These animals are like rats. They go wherever they find a suitable place to live and breed. By law we are not allowed to shoot them. Regarding the side effects of their faeces, this is something which needs to be researched scientifically.”