• November 17th, 2018
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Grape companies turn to Plan B to provide workers’ accommodation

National
National

Matheus Hamutenya Keetmanshoop-Cape Orchard Company is frustrated that government has failed to develop accommodation for farm labourers on a piece of land donated in 2000. “Government has not come to the party. Many times, many years they have not come to the party; they are neglecting the people. So, we are now in the process of improving the lives of the people where they currently live,” said the Director of Cape Orchard Company, Arjan de Kock. The company is now developing the land where grape workers live, to provide them with tap water, electricity and toilets. De Kock revealed the grape companies’ new plan to New Era, saying government has for the last 17 years miserably failed to develop the land that it got free. Government is alleged to have received free land measuring 644 hectares from a Dusan Vasiljevic in 2000 to set up accommodation for the labourers at the grape company. However, decades later the grape workers still live in squalid conditions, without potable water, proper ablution facilities and electricity. The grape workers continue to live in fire-prone reed houses, with no access to basic services, while 7 000 demarcated erven, two demonstration houses, and Namwater’s water purification plant are the only structures to show 17 years after the land was donated, this largely due to lack of funds according to government officials. Last year saw a further drawback on the farm’s development, as the ground-breaking ceremony, which was meant to kick-start the billion-dollar town development at Aussenhkehr was postponed, and this seems to be the final nail in the coffin for the grape companies- as they have now decided to look at another alternative to solve the housing and sanitation problems. A frustrated De Kock said many companies have raised concerns over the snail's pace at which government is developing the town, but it has not yielded any positive results and thus companies have resorted to make things happen on their own. He said although the plan is still in its infancy, the aim is to develop the land where grape workers currently live, by providing them with tap water, electricity and toilets. Silverlands Vineyards Managing Director, Andre Vermaak, also confirmed that the companies have decided to take another route, as they do not know when government plans would finally materialise, and thus the decision to develop the area where people live, by making it more formal. He said all companies in the grape valleys have bought into the idea and are willing to make things happen, noting that it looks promising despite being in the planning stages. “We are looking at rather transforming the current area into a proper formal kind of town. We have been waiting for government for I do not know how long. So, we all looked at it and asked ourselves, what is the alternative? The plan B?” he said. Vermaak confirmed that they aim to provide services to the workers where they currently reside, so that they have access to clean water, toilets and solar power.
New Era Reporter
2018-01-05 09:05:39 10 months ago

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