TSUMEB - Hype and doubt form part of a mixed bag of feelings engulfing the minds in Tsumeb since the announcement of the development – and now start - of a N$20 billion Smart City investment at the northern mining town.
While optimists are over the moon over the mooted investment, pessimism remains about the genuineness of the initiative – given the size of the investment and the two year timeframe its owners intent on completing it.
The current uninspiring economic situation in the country further plunges many people’s confidence in the project.
Despite pockets of disbelief, the nation and the world await with bated breaths as MKP South Africa, the project administrator, together with contractors, kick-start the investment.
The owners seem to have already served a severe blow to the army of doubting Thomases after earthwork commenced last week Thursday.
With the ignition of heavy machinery on site, it was clear as daylight that the owners are at a point of no return.
It was at this occasion that the MKP South Africa, national and regional leadership implored the contractor, China State Construction, to prioritise employment of the locals and avoid importing cheap labour, as it has been the widespread practice by some Chinese companies.
This, they said, will be the first fruits that Namibians will start enjoying from the project, as thousands of jobs will be available. This is in addition to economic upliftment of the copper town, which has heavily depended on mining and agricultural sector.
Tsumeb has a population 22 500 people. The Tsumeb Smart City project will include a medical university that will provide an international standard education for approximately 25 000 students, providing them and all the staff with accommodation, complemented with a modern 800-bed hospital. These are the owners’ promises.
And the myriad of promises did not end there. The Smart-City, its creators say, will also have six hotels, office parks, residential apartments, entertainment and recreational facilities. The existing airport will be upgraded to an international standard.
The projects come at the time when the country is battling with increasing unemployment, which hit an all high of 33.40 percent in 2018. “I encourage the contractor to deviate from malpractices and the notion of no sharing, Tsumeb and its people should come first in whatever you do. If you can spot anything around, look further and assist other Namibians,” stressed MKP’s Chief Executive Officer and chairman Bizwell Mutale, as he revealed that the company will give a 10 percent equity share to the town of Tsumeb for continued developmental projects.
Mutale said about 10 international architects, including 13 major companies architects, designed and will work on the project, which is envisaged to complete in 2021.
“Our aim is that, come 202, the project will be fully operational or be 80 percent complete. Five African countries have shown support and promised to bring their students here at our medical university, once operational, as well as international corporate companies. This city is not only for Namibia, but for Africa at large,” added Mutale.
He also said, 163 professors already identified will be employed, including three from Namibia.
Deputy Minister of Works and Transport James Sankwasa said the project has also presented a daunting task to the agricultural sector, as they are now required to upscale their methods to prepare well in order to meet and feed the demand.
Sankwasa also used the platform to blast dishonest and lazy local entrepreneurs who do not carry out tasks as mandated.
“There are scenarios where entrepreneurs are bought out by their joint contractors, that should not be the case, I beg you, be patriotic Namibians,” stated the minister, saying it’s among the reasons why they cant grow because they don’t participate in the real work.
“They are all here in Namibia, none is doing business outside, because they know nothing,” he reiterated.
Further taking a swipe at fellow parliamentarians and wealth Namibians, who send their children to overseas universities as well as going for medical treatment outside Africa, Sankwasa said they are the epitome why Africa is being called a graveyard.
“Let’s restore our dignity now by supporting this project as it embarks on the journey to construct a world class medical university and hospital. Once complete, let’s use these facilities to show the western and eastern world that Africa is indeed not a graveyard and undevelopable,” Sankwasa said.
2019-08-21 07:33:37 | 2 months ago