Mutorwa orders probe into Salini subcontractor relations

18 May 2016 15:00pm
KEETMANSHOOP, 18 MAY (NAMPA) – Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa has directed senior officials in his ministry to investigate claims of unfairness towards subcontractors of the Neckartal Dam project.
Salini Namibia, contracted to build the dam outside Keetmanshoop, stands accused of hiring and firing subcontracting companies at will and failing to pay the companies on time.
The secretary-general in the Office of the Nama Traditional Leaders Association (NTLA), Lazarus Kairabeb wrote a letter to Mutorwa on Tuesday detailing the “abuse of power by Salini” and called on Government to tighten the system to protect the smaller companies.
Kairabeb showed the letter with the minister’s response to Nampa in which Mutorwa advised the Director of Water Supply and Sanitation Coordination Leonard Niipare and the deputy ministers in the relevant departments to investigate the concerns.
Both Mutorwa and Niipare were unavailable to comment on Wednesday.
Last month Nampa reported on a meeting between Salini management and affected subcontracting companies that accused the Italian dam expert company of late payments and terminating contracts when challenged.
Kairabeb later met with some of the companies to discuss a course of action to resolve the ongoing conflict between the two parties.
“Many workers with their families are affected in this matter,” Kairabeb, a former parliamentarian, said in that meeting.
In his letter to the minister, he wrote that Salini kept subcontractors on a leash without properly-established contracts while the smaller companies provide the required services.
“As soon as the subcontractors complain about payment or working conditions, they are discarded,” Kairabeb said.
He called for greater involvement from Government to regulate Salini Namibia and to protect the Namibian companies who largely depend on dam contracts for their survival.
Payments for some companies have been late for over five months with Salini refusing to pay interest.
The subcontractors allege that the Italian company has played “the power game” since the project started in 2013 treating companies and workers alike as “beggars”.
Salini Namibia administration and finance manager Roberto Velo previously dismissed the charges and counter-accused some of the companies of poor service.