Chinese dominate N$800 million project

More than 30 Chinese nationals are employed as skilled labour on an N$800 million road project in Windhoek, which has angered a local union and China Railway Seventh Group's Namibian partner.

24 August 2018 | Infrastructure

A Chinese site agent sees nothing untoward about Chinese skills dominating local projects, even if they are awarded in conjunction with Namibian partners.

Chile Yang, who says he has worked everywhere on the continent, was responding to growing outrage about the fact that an N$800 million road project, which the media previously reported was to be financed by China, currently has over 30 skilled Chinese employees.

According to Yang, this is the case with most projects the Namibian government undertakes with Chinese firms, citing other developments such as the N$4.2 billion Walvis Bay port expansion.

He added this was also the conduct of Chinese companies elsewhere on the continent.

However, China Railway Seventh Group's Namibian partner on the Hosea Kutako International Airport road project, Onamagongwa Trading Enterprises, has accused it of sidelining them.

In April, the Bank of Namibia (BoN) confirmed that from 2014 to 2017, the total amount repatriated from Namibia to China was estimated at about N$12 billion, while about N$5.6 billion was repatriated from China to Namibia during the same period.

Onamagongwa project manager Stanley Sinokwanyana said yesterday there was absolutely no support from the Namibian government in terms of the Hosea Kutako road project.

China Railway is a subsidiary of Chinese state-owned China Railway Engineering Corporation, while Onamagongwa is owned by local businessman Martin Iipinge.

“The Chinese were supposed to come in and carry us as the local partner, but now they are even fighting us for that little piece (20%). Of course you will find Chinese managers on the site because they are dominating us,” Sinokwanyana said.

He added the Chinese government was backing its companies, while there was little support from the Namibian government for local companies.

Sinokwanyana said the Roads Authority (RA) does monthly inspections of the project and is therefore fully aware of their “cries for help”.





The Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (Manwu) has accused China Railway of a host of health and safety violations and of non-compliance with the Labour Act.

Manwu general secretary Justina Jonas said this week that the road project was dominated by Chinese nationals.

Jonas gave the RA until the end of August to sort out these irregularities, otherwise she would spill even more beans in public.

“We have written so many letters to them. The first letter we wrote was not answered; after the second letter they sent junior staff to meet with us. The only minister that met with us was the finance minister (Calle Schlettwein), who met with us last week,” Jonas said.

“The RA is fully aware of the things we are talking about. We had a meeting with some of their junior staff members on 14 August. Another thing is that they say they have a local partner, but he is nowhere to be found.”

Jonas also alleged that the Chinese management had changed the employment contracts of contract labourers from 12 months to one month and that some of the project vehicles, including trucks and buses, are not roadworthy.

“There are so many problems there, including corruption; the Chinese are also failing to transfer skills to Namibian labourers. We have even tried to reach the Chinese embassy in Namibia since January to raise these issues with them, with no success.”

When contacted for comment on Wednesday, RA CEO Conrad Lutombi said it was the first time he had heard of these allegations.

“These things that you are talking about now were not brought to my attention. I know they (the union) had asked for a meeting and the meeting took place when I was out of the office,” said Lutombi.

He further asked that questions be sent to him in writing.

In a response, RA spokesperson Hileni Fillemon said the RA was not aware of the union's deadline of 31 August.

She also denied the union's allegation that there are 41 Chinese nationals in the project's top management structure.

“Currently, 38 Chinese nationals and not 41 are employed on the project in various positions such as contract managers, bridge engineers and structural and culverts experts. The job titles are self-explanatory,” she said.

Fillemon added the RA is aware of the union's concerns and that a meeting was held on 20 July with all the relevant parties present, and the contractor was given time until 3 September to attend to the union's concerns.

Yang said of the 38 skilled staff, six are Namibian, including the foremen, the HR manager and the safety officer.

According to Yang the semi-skilled labour force, which he said were all Namibians, stands at 362.

He confirmed there were no Namibian engineers on their team, because of the language barrier.

“The software of our computer systems are all in Chinese languages.”

Local engineer and Namibia Society of Engineers (NASE) representative Charles Mukwaso rubbished these justifications, saying there are plenty of Namibian engineers that are employable.

“It is a reality that we have engineers that have studied engineering and graduated in China, who are able to read this software and they are unemployed now,” Mukwaso said.

He appealed to the government to contact them if they need engineers for this kind of project.

JEMIMA BEUKES

Similar News

 

Houses, drought relief food not campaign strategy

1 hour ago | Infrastructure

People should not see houses built for them as a way for the ruling party to campaign for the upcoming election, but rather as development...

Work on Rundu weather office starts

3 weeks ago - 27 May 2019 | Infrastructure

The works ministry has appointed Bongi and Prince Trading to complete the construction of the outstanding and shoddy works done at meteorological office at the...

Home is where the heart is

2 months ago - 11 April 2019 | Infrastructure

The groundwork has been laid for the servicing of 400 plots in two new low-cost residential areas in Oshakati and Okahao.Three-hundred more will be pegged...

TransNamib boosts business at Grootfontein

2 months ago - 02 April 2019 | Infrastructure

TransNamib and Ascon Energy (Pty) Ltd signed an agreement for the rail transport of coal, containers and various commodities between Walvis Bay and inland terminals...

Oshakati council relocating residents to Onawa

2 months ago - 25 March 2019 | Infrastructure

OSHAKATI – Residents of the Eemwandi informal settlement at Oshakati will be relocated to Onawa as from 01 May this year.The Oshakati Town Council is...

Unfinished pipeline impacts 7 000 residents

2 months ago - 20 March 2019 | Infrastructure

About 6 932 people and 33 790 large and 18 395 small stock units are facing thirst, as the agriculture ministry battles to finish the...

Red tape delays housing handover

3 months ago - 18 March 2019 | Infrastructure

Windhoek town planning constraints and red tape, along with a host of other troubles, are to blame for the protracted delays in the handing over...

DBN pushes affordable homes

3 months ago - 11 March 2019 | Infrastructure

Fast-tracking residential land delivery and affordable housing will not only empower cash-strapped low-income earners and ensure them a stake in the local economy, but lead...

Hold-up on highways

3 months ago - 11 March 2019 | Infrastructure

Major sections of the Okahandja dual carriageway and the road from Windhoek to Hosea Kutako International Airport are yet to be completed.Works minister John Mutorwa...

Engineers, builders to pay for RA building repairs

3 months ago - 01 March 2019 | Infrastructure

The consulting engineering firm and the building contractor Namibia Construction will have to foot the bill for repairs to the Roads Authority’s new N$219 million...

Latest News

Sky is the limit for...

1 hour ago | Technology

Ester Kamati Megan Werner, an experienced model and published author, recently finished building an aircraft along with 20 other youth, which they plan to fly...

The weight of expectation

1 hour ago | Columns

A huge weight of expectation will undoubtedly rest on political leaders vying for office later this year. While there is a sense that the current...

It’s not that serious!

1 hour ago | Columns

Ester KamatiThis may be a worn-out topic but the need to talk about it is quite strong. Lately romantic relationships among youth have simply become...

New name for Etakaya

1 hour ago | Education

Justicia Shipena Etakaya Primary School, situated at Etakaya village of Etakaya in the Ohangwena Region, was recently renamed Sakaria H Nghikembua Primary School.The school...

Feeling the momentum!

1 hour ago | Sports

Ester KamatiWindhoek High School’s Vegkop stadium is home to many memorable games when it comes to rugby and this year was no different. The stadium...

Improving Africa through constructive debate

1 hour ago | Education

Ester KamatiThe 2019 Day of the African Child Debate and Public Speaking Championships knockout rounds were held at the St George's ­Diocesan School on 14...

40 000 to benefit from...

1 hour ago | Environment

More than 40 000 beneficiaries are expected to benefit from a climate change project in the Kunene Region.This is 57% of the total population of...

Houses, drought relief food not...

1 hour ago | Infrastructure

People should not see houses built for them as a way for the ruling party to campaign for the upcoming election, but rather as development...

A platform for leadership

1 hour ago | Education

Michelline NawatisesThe City of Windhoek Junior Council (JC) provides a platform for leadership potential and exposes learners to local challenges.They learn about local issues and...

Load More