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Witnesses recount Ongos sewage tragedy

2021-12-09  Loide Jason

Witnesses recount Ongos sewage tragedy
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Loide Jason and Terence Mukasa

 

A full investigation has been launched by police after three construction workers died in a sewage hole at the Ongos Valley development site on Tuesday. Khomas police commander Ishmael Basson confirmed the incident to New Era yesterday.

“Yes, it is true three male workers died on Tuesday afternoon while on duty. I was told that one gentleman was in the hole removing water and the other two went in to assist in the situation, but they failed and suffocated,” he indicated. Basson added that one of the deceased was retrieved alive, but was in a critical condition and could not make it to hospital. As a result, he was declared dead on the scene. 

Khomas crime investigations coordinator Nikolaus Kupembona said investigations are still at a premature stage.

However, he confirmed that it is indeed suspected that the trio suffocated while they were in the hole.

Reliable sources, who spoke to New Era at the construction site on the outskirts of Windhoek, expressed their sorrow about the unfortunate incident, saying they suspected the workers may have died because of the toxic smoke from the generator they were using.

The workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, explained that one of their colleagues was working in the hole at the time. “Upon completion of the work, the other two workers went down into the hole to assist the worker to drain the underground water as he was struggling to do so. They ended up inhaling the bad smoke from the generator they were using,” they said. 

Ongos Valley spokesperson Abed Erastus said they sympathise with the bereaved families, and that a full investigation is ongoing to ascertain the cause of the incident. “We would like to express our sincere condolences to the family members and the loved ones,” he added.

Erastus described the incident as unfortunate.

“This is a very sensitive matter, and it must be treated as such. We cannot dwell much about it, neither give you permission to assess the scene as it remains a sensitive scene,” he stated. 

Approached for comment, Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (Manwu) secretary general Justina Jonas described the tragedy as unfortunate.

“If the workers could listen to us when we tried to engage them, these things could have been avoided,” she said.

Labour minister Utoni Nujoma said he was not aware of the incident, hence cannot comment.

Windhoek mayor Sade Gawanas said she too was not aware of the incident, while City spokesperson Harold Akwenye said comment should come from the management of Ongos as they are a private developer building houses there. 

“A lot happens in her town, but she is not at liberty to respond to all. The mayor cannot comment much on what happened, rather than to send her condolences and wait on the outcome of the investigation,” he added.


2021-12-09  Loide Jason

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