RUNDU - Somewhere in Ndama settlement some 100 metres north of the Trans-Zambezi Highway is a corrugated iron sheet shack partitioned with a brick wall, boards and once you open the door you are greeted with a truly amazing interior decor and designs that can make your jaw drop.
In that house made out of corrugated iron sheets you get the experience and first-hand exposure to what a 28-year-old joiner and cabinet maker can do with his skills when it comes to joinery work. He says the whole purpose is to display what his hands can do. This shack has an exquisite interior that resembles most of the houses in those middle to upper class houses in leafy residential areas.
“I used simple boards from a local hardware store, and in the kitchen I decided to mix different colours, when I get clients sometimes they want to see what I have done and I bring them here because I cannot take them to other people’s houses to view my work so the whole purpose for this is also for display because some people won’t trust you to work on their property if you haven’t shown them what you can do, that’s why I have a lot of colours for clients to choose from,” said Rundu’s joinery guru, Pandu Efeinge Shifotoka.
In that corrugated iron house Shifotoka has a room, a kitchen, a bathroom and a storeroom where he stores his equipment and all the tools of his creative trade. “When I was in Grade 12 in 2008, I wanted to do IT but my points could not allow me to take that destiny so I opted to go to the Rundu Vocational Training Centre (RVTC) from 2008 to 2010, where I did joinery and cabinet making and when I got there I wanted to take auto electric and I ended up doing joinery and I had no idea what joinery was,” he recollects.
According to him, he knew joinery and cabinet making was his trade when he started doing practicals and it was at this point that he developed a passion.
“I got the opportunity to go for internship at a joinery firm in Windhoek, there I advanced my skills and mastered joinery works, I learned a lot and came back to finish my Level Three. After graduating, I went in search of a job in Windhoek but the salary wasn’t good for me to afford the Windhoek life, so I came back to Rundu and drove a taxi for a while before I got a job again. I was there for about four years and in 2016, I quit to be independent,” he added.
Since 2016, Shifotoka has been self-employed.
“I have a registered company. BALSA Investments CC, where I do my joinery, woodwork, kitchen designs, renovations and install build-in cupboards. I love joinery work because at the end of the day I do things that people like or will talk about it and they will ask who did it, eventually they will get to seek for my services,” he says with pride in his eyes.
Although there are challenges, Shifotoka says the joinery market is booming in Rundu. “Joinery business in Rundu is awesome but the challenge is the machines that we need to cut our boards and wood, we (people doing joinery work) used to use a workshop at the SME park but due to pressure, the machines broke down and they were also old, I now use to cut my boards at one workshop, so now it’s a struggle of machinery.”
“I once got a quotation of equipment in order to set up my workshop and it was above N$200 000, and I still don’t have that money so that is a challenge and I have not yet approached any financial institution, I am working on a proper business plan, It will be to my advantage if one day I can have a workshop of my own. At least I will then have a big space to work in, and I will have the facility for others to come cut their boards, cupboards and so on for a fee of course,” he continued.
At the moment when Pandu is hired to do a big or a proper job he has to order materials from Windhoek and they need to cut it and then send it via public transport.