By Confidente Reporter
CONSTRUCTION of the ambitious N$800 million Hosea Kutako dual carriage road by China Railway Seventh Group has come to a standstill owing to alleged financial constraints, Confidente has learnt.
The situation is reportedly so bad that the company failed to pay its subcontractors for over three months. The subcontractors in turn bemoaned being unable to pay their workforces as well as being pressurised by financial institutions that loaned them money to complete the project.
About 30 workers that worked on the site have also since last Thursday downed their tools after the company reportedly stopped footing their transport bill. The workers said that until a month ago, they were transported to and from work every day with company buses as per their contracts.
The workers said they feel being discriminated against claiming that a majority are now expected to fork out about N$30 a day for transport while a selected few still enjoy the benefit of being transported in smaller company vehicles.
When Confidente arrived at the company’s offices on the side of the Western bypass Tuesday, workers were gathered outside braving the rain waiting to hear the outcome of a meeting between management and the recognised union,
Workers Union (MANWU). Metal and Allied Namibian
“We decided to stop working as a cry out for help because the issue of transport is provided for in our contracts. Transport was never a problem. We were transported every day to and from work and now suddenly they are telling us we should fork out the money without consulting us first,” one of the disgruntled workers said on condition of anonymity.
A second worker said, “We know that at least five of our colleagues who are probably in good books of the bosses are still transported every day. But this is not fair on the rest of us. We should be treated equally.”
Civil contractor Rupert Wohler of RFW Construction said that his work on the site stopped early September after the company reportedly made endless payment promises. Wohler said that the company also failed to provide him a letter to take to the bank as proof that they completed the job but could not be paid due to financial difficulties the company is paying.
“We don’t know where to go or who to turn to. It is really tough. They have made many promises of payment but have not fulfilled anything. I also have to pay my workers but I cannot because I too am not paid. It means that when the money is eventually paid, I’ll have to pay my workers three times for the months missed. I’ve requested a letter to take to the bank but they refuse. Livelihoods of so many families are affected and the fact that Christmas is around the corner is even more worrying.”
MANWU’s branch organiser, Micheal Kangombe said that the meeting did not bear positive results adding the union was waiting to consult the company’s management again.
“We tried to have a meeting with management where we would discuss burning labour issues like transport that has resulted in the halt of the project. That meeting was not fruitful and we did not like the way they treated us.
“…In that meeting they suggested we go to the labour commissioner’s office with the matter but we cannot do that without first finalising the issue with them. We need to talk about issues affecting the workers on the project. It’s a national project that has been stopped and people have been affected,” Kangombe said.
Efforts to get comment from the company’s HR officer, a certain Jason Wang proved futile at the time of going to print as his mobile rang unanswered. Wang also did not respond to an sms sent to him.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015