03 Dec 2014 18:30pm
KEETMANSHOOP, 03 DEC (NAMPA) The Hendrik Tseib Community Liaison Committee (HTCLC) on Wednesday morning successfully managed to stop work for one full day at the Neckertal Dam construction outside Keetmanshoop.
The HTCLC did this by blocking the entrance gate to the dam, preventing 600 workers and subcontractors of Salini Namibia from reporting for duty.
It was the scene of a modern day David against Goliath battle, when a few vehicles and some 50 people defiantly parked and stood in front of the gate, denying access onto the premises to six big buses, some smaller vans and pick-up trucks, which ended up parking across the national B3 road.
Members of the Namibian Police (NamPol), the Police Reserve Force and a private security company observed events during the peaceful demonstration.
Meanwhile, NamPol //Karas Regional Commander, Armas Shivute consulted with Salini project manager, Fabrizio Lazzarin in the Salini offices located at the dam.
Nearly 10 days ago, the HTCLC protested in front of the head office of Salini Namibia in Keetmanshoop.
According to HTCLC chairperson Ernst Jash, the Italian company was flouting tender specifications, which he said indicated that the community group was intended to spearhead and supervise the recruitment, training and socio-economic drive of the dam project.
Recruitment is currently done by Salini and the Office of the //Karas Governor. This task is headed by Special Advisor to the Governor, Lucia Basson.
We have been robbed, said Jash.
We demand that recruitment and training as a department be placed under the supervision and care of the HTCLC in order to ensure and assure transparency in the entire recruitment drive, a petition by the group reads.
On Wednesday morning, some of the workers blocked from entry supported the protesting group.
They are fighting for us all; we suffer at Salini. There are a lot of irregularities at the dam, one worker said.
This is a case between OWambos and Namas, another shouted.
The HTCLC indicated to Salini via a letter that it would camp outside the premises unless the company agrees to a meeting by 05 December 2014, where all concerns could be addressed.
Lazzarin said that the issues raised by the HTCLC could only be addressed by its employer, the Government of Namibia.
After a standoff around the meeting date was averted, the group was informed round lunchtime that representatives from Salini, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, contracted dam engineer Knight Piésold and the HTCLC group would meet on the requested date. The police will observe that meeting.
What took them so long, what was so difficult? We are overwhelmed that we can finally get the chance to sit and negotiate on this issue, said Jash.