KEETMANSHOOP – Disgruntled residents of Aminuis constituency in the Omaheke region recently stopped construction of the main road that stretches from Onderombapa to Aranos via Aminuis, citing unfair labour practices.
The road being built stretches across two regions – Omaheke and Hardap – and the source of discontent is that not enough residents from Aminuis constituency, which is in Omaheke region, are being employed on the project. Onderombapa is part of Aminuis constituency.
According to Aminuis constituency councillor Peter Kazongominja, a ‘concerned group’ previously forwarded a petition to his office demanding more employment for local residents at the road construction project.
“They threatened to block the road if their concerns are not amicably resolved, leading to this unfortunate incident whereby all access to the project site was blocked by them,” he said.
Kazongominja added that he made a concerted effort of sending video clips and pictures of the petition messages to the Roads Authority’s Omaheke regional office in Gobabis as well the office of the Omaheke regional governor, Pijoo Nganate, explaining the problem to them.
“I even warned them that if the road construction is delayed it will cause huge financial losses for government,” the councillor added.
He furthermore said nothing had really been done to solve the problem.
The councillor said that 76 Aminuis residents were supposed to be employed at the site as general workers, but that only 43 are currently working on the project.
“Myself, governor Nganate and representatives from the contractor, RCC-Teichmann joint venture, then met to find a solution to this burning issue in my constituency, but till now nothing was done,” Kazongominja noted with great concern.
He also said that at the meeting he had informed those present that the ‘concerned group’ would return and block the road again if their demands were not met.
“Without informing my office the Roads Authority then issued a media release rejecting concerns of the Aminuis community since it is, according to them, a politically motivated issue, sparking from tribalism as these people do not want workers from other parts to be employed in their area,” he said.
The regional councillor also said he has been accused of instigating residents of Aminuis whilst he is the one whose hands are cut off to assist his community members.
“These people even wanted to gather at my office again on Monday, seeking answers for their grievances, but I told them to be patient as I am trying my level best to address it with the relevant parties involved,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hardap regional governor Salomon April during an interview with New Era concurred with the councillor that the quota of workers to be employed at the road construction site was not yet reached as it can only be achieved if more general workers will be needed for the project.
“There is not enough work at this stage to fulfill the 48% quota for Aminuis residents,” he said.
April added that the Aminuis community members can thus not claim the agreement was not fulfilled as this is an ongoing project.
“There are currently only 22 people from Hardap region employed at the site whilst 117 are from the Omaheke region, but we have resolved that unskilled/general workers employed in the two regions will be on a 50/50 basis as more jobs will be created during the construction,’’ April emphasised.
April said the part of the project in Omaheke would be completed very soon after which it will stretch over to Hardap. Both Kazongominja and April confirmed that the project has started again after workers resumed work.
Several previous attempts to get hold of Omaheke regional governor Nganate proved futile.