D&M Rail Construction aims to make a tangible, worthwhile and significant contribution to the socio-economic development of the coast, said its Chief Operating Officer (COO), Johan Laubscher.
The company, which has over the years constructed and maintained over 600km of track (mainly on the Kranzberg-Tsumeb line, Ondangwa – Oshikango railway line in 2011, Aus – Luderitz railway line in 2012 as well as numerous sidings for private companies, is now charged with rehabilitating 52km’s of track between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund.
“Although we are sub-contracted to the main contractor and only have 20% of the contract, D&M Rail Construction brings with it a hub of railway engineers and technicians with unrivalled experience to ensure that this project is a success. During the following 13 months, we will be removing tracks and sleepers and replacing them with new sleepers and tracks to ensure a world-class, well-functioning railway system essential for Government’s vision to transform Namibia into a logistics hub, connecting SADC to international markets,” Laubscher said.
D&M Rail aims to provide – at peak – around 250 direct and indirect job opportunities, most of which are earmarked for local coastal residents. According to the Human Resources Manager, MC Kooper, the company brought in only 54 employees consisting of Platelayers, experienced general workers and other skilled employees from Otjiwarongo, Otavi, Ondangwa, Tsumeb and Kalkfeld and Omaruru, with the rest of the employees to be sourced from the Erongo region.
“Our technical teams are highly experienced and have worked on various similar railway rehabilitation projects around the country and are really critical in meeting the high technical standards as well as tight deadlines and budgets set. In addition, we sourced from the experienced general workers whose contracts had ended in 2019, to assist on the project and bring with them the experience and motivate the remaining employees to be drawn from the local area. It has always been D&M Rail’s position to employ as many of our staff from the local workforce and the Erongo region will by no means be different” said Kooper.
Meanwhile, five new employees from the region obtained certificates of competence after completing external practical and theoretical training in operating Heavy Machinery such as TLB, Excavator, Grader and Front- End Loader. D&M Rail said it works in collaboration with the labour ministry in the identification and recruitment of local staff.
Safety of the workforce remains top priority and the company has put all regulatory and legislative measures in place to ensure no harm comes to employees during their working hours, both on and off-site. Experienced safety officers are stationed all over the site ensuring safe working practices are maintained and Covid-19 regulations are adhered to.
A total of eight employees successfully completed four days external training as Safety Representatives, First Aiders and Fire Fighters during November 2020.
Another seven female employees successfully completed a five-day external practical and theoretical training as Protection Officers/Flagwomen during December 2020.
The employment of over 250 staff members is expected to make a meaningful contribution to the local economic sectors through local procurement on expenditures such as rent/housing; retail and various other sectors.
D&M Rail’s position to make use of mainly local contractors to provide essential goods and services has ensured that in the past five months of setting up office in Swakopmund it has spent in excess of N$1 million per month on local contractors. This equates to more than N$5 million dollars towards local contractors in the past five months. This, Laubscher says will further contribute to the economy of the region.
“We are fully aware of the effects the Covid-19 pandemic had on the economy of the region but remain confident that our little contribution will go some way in alleviating some of these effects. We remain committed to employment creation and the socio-economic development of the communities in which we operate,” Laubscher concluded.