Too many Owambos employed to build houses in Rundu: Locals

18 Jul 2014 10:10am
KAISOSI, 18 JUL (NAMPA) - A sub-contractor of the mass housing project at Rundu is under fire for allegedly employing mainly Owambo people to do unskilled jobs here.
Residents, mainly those surrounding the site of the project, are accusing the Erastus Tangeni Naujoma (ETN) Technical Services’ company of disregarding locals from tribal groups such as the UKwangali, Shambyu, Gcririku, Mbukushu and Nyemba groups to do unskilled work.
The residents claim that over 90 per cent of the over 200 people employed by ETN Technical Services at the project are Owambo, and were allegedly transported here from the northern regions.
One female Owambo worker confirmed to Nampa at the site on Friday that she travelled here from the north to work on this project.
The local residents are complaining that they also want to gain skills and experience by working on the project, and want the sub-contractor to employ more locals.
“How can you have 90 per cent of unskilled workers from one ethnic group only? This is sheer nepotism,” charged one of the locals, who refused to be identified.
Furthermore, those employed claim that since they started work last month, they have not signed any employment contracts, and are also working without protective clothing such as overalls and gloves while doing hard labour such as digging holes.
The site foreman, who only identified himself as Alpheus, refuted the tribal allegations, saying they have employed a mixture of different ethnic groups.
An observation by this reporter established that the majority of those employed by the ETN Company, which is headquartered in Ongwediva in the Oshana Region, are indeed Owambo.
An employee of the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) who visited the site on Thursday said he too made similar observations - that the dominant group of workers are Owambo.
The official refused to be named, as he is not allowed to speak to the media.
He noted that a project of this magnitude is supposed to give priority to locals so that they can also earn an income and gain skills, which will benefit them in the long run.
The Rundu Mass Housing project kicked off early last month after experiencing a delay for months due to a land dispute as affected residents were demanding compensation before giving up their crop fields.
The houses are being built at the Kaisosi informal settlement’s Extension 10 on the eastern outskirts of Rundu.
The NHE appointed the Green Circle Investment Company from Windhoek to construct 318 houses here at a cost of N.dollars 89 million.
The mass housing project is expected to take 20 months to complete as per the contractual agreement, and 60 houses are expected to be completed by the end of November this year.
Octagon Construction was sub-contracted by Green Circle to service the land, which covers 10 000 square metres.
So far, land has been serviced for the construction of 50 houses.
This phase also includes the installation of electricity, street lights and water infrastructure as well as the construction of roads.