04 Jul 2015 10:40am
KEETMANSHOOP, 04 JUL (NAMPA) The living conditions of the workers at the Naute Irrigation Scheme are expected to improve next month with renovations estimated at N.dollars 15 million set to be completed.
The project is situated about 50 kilometres south of Keetmanshoop.
Speaking to Nampa on Friday, the Namibia Development Corporation (NDC)s Senior Manager of Corporate Affairs, Wessel Nanuseb noted that the repairs, which commenced in August 2014, will be completed in August.
The scope of the work includes every unit getting its own ablution and kitchen facilities as opposed to communal facilities. New accommodation units are also being built which will be able to accommodate an additional 100 temporary workers. This will ease the burden on the existing facilities, he noted.
The cost of the renovations amounts to nearly N.dollars 6.6 million.
The new accommodation units that are being built are estimated to cost about N.dollars 8.4 million.
The deplorable working and living conditions of employees at the Naute Irrigation Scheme and the Al Dahra Agricultural Project, also outside Keetmanshoop, came under fire when President Hifikepunye Pohamba visited the area in March last year.
The president was highly agitated at the living conditions of the workers, and said the situation was intolerable in an independent Namibia.
He instructed its immediate rectification.
The farms produce grapes and dates for export to the European market, and are a joint venture between the Namibia Development Corporation (NDC) and the United Arab Emirates-based Aldhara Agricultural Company.
The workers complained to Nampa during a visit in October last year that they lived in dirty, overcrowded rooms and had little privacy.
In some cases, rooms are shared by men and women, and married couples share rooms with colleagues.
Bathroom and shower facilities are limited, and the compounds often experience power outages. The workers said they were furthermore unhappy with their salaries as well as the treatment they received from management.
Meanwhile, Nanuseb said the future looks bright for the workers as a crèche and clinic facilities are also being constructed.
The project employs about 20 permanent workers and 140 seasonal workers.
The irrigation project was initiated below the wall of the second largest dam in the country, the Naute Dam, in the early 1990s.