NamClay denies air pollution claims

25 Feb 2016 11:10am
SWAKOPMUND, 25 FEB (NAMPA) - The community of Uis is concerned about the emission of smoke and dust at the NamClay Bricks and Pavers factory.
A letter written by Uis community activist, Isaskar Kamendu on behalf of the community expressed concern about pollution caused by the smoke and dust, which they fear will lead to diseases such as asthma amongst inhabitants of the settlement.
They asked Government to look into the matter, alleging that when invited, the NamClay management apparently does not show up for community meetings to hear their complaints.
“When the wind blows to the side of our houses in Ou Dorp settlement, the smoke and dust is unbearable and breathing is difficult; not even closing windows and doors helps.
“Even the vegetation in the direction in which the dust and smoke is blown is also dying slowly, even during the rain they do not show signs of recovery. Now imagine what effects such pollution can have on humans,” reads the document.
The community is also accusing the company of not complying with environmental laws because it “allows” the excessive dust and smoke in the air.
Other allegations in the letter are that employees of NamClay are denied trade union representation, do not receive medical examinations considering the environment they work in and have no medical aid benefits.
Acknowledging the fact that NamClay is the biggest employer at Uis, the activist asked that employees be treated fairly.
In response, factory manager Albert Weitz Junior on Wednesday said the company has always been committed to complying with all laws and regulations applicable to their operations.
“To minimise dust, we control it by rotating a 20 000 litre water truck on the premises for the entire day, using up more than 60 000 litres of borehole water. We also implemented shade nets at various locations on the plant to mitigate any dust spillage.”
He added that all 50 employees have unlimited access to dust masks to prevent the inhalation of dust.
Weitz said the smoke is a result of brick clamps being fired, which is when the bricks are baked.
He also indicated that they have never received an invitation to a community meeting.
“The management of NamClay has never received any letter of invitation to attend a community meeting.”
The manager explained that some employees at the factory are members of the Mineworkers' Union of Namibia (MUN), which does not have a recognition agreement with the company because their focus is the mining industry, while NamClay is in the manufacturing industry.
Weitz dismissed allegations that employees are denied the right to union representation.
He said the Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (MANWU) was invited to visit the factory and ask employees to join the body, as they are recognised in NamClay’s field of operation. However, none of the employees wanted to join as they think unions only “take their money but provide no benefits”.
“All our employees will get medical check-ups this year. We already made an appointment with the doctor in Swakopmund where they will start going for medical check-ups,” he said.
Uis is located more than 100 kilometres east of Henties Bay in the Erongo Region.