Hendrik Tseib demonstrates against Salini

KEETMANSHOOP: The Hendrik Tseib Community Liaison Committee (HTCLC) is threatening to forcefully close the entrance to the Neckartal Dam if its demand to be included in the dam’s construction recruitment process is not met.

Committee members and approximately 50 unemployed people from Keetmanshoop demonstrated in front of the offices of construction company Salini Impregilo on Monday, demanding that the company suspends recruitment for the dam project with immediate effect.

HTCLC chairperson Ernst Jash said the company has been flouting tender specifications which indicate that the community group was intended to spearhead and supervise the recruitment and socio-economic issues of the dam project.

Recruitment is currently done by Salini and the Office of the Governor of the //Karas Region, and is headed by Special Advisor to the Governor Lucia Basson.

Jash claimed that the current recruitment and appointment process is unprocedural, flawed, and that it failed to benefit inhabitants of this region.

The protesters demanded a full list of all jobseekers at the dam; details of current appointments and a list of all sub-contractors and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from the region that benefited from the construction project.

They also demanded to be afforded an immediate site visit followed by monthly visits to the dam currently under construction, and requested the removal of Salini’s human resources manager Hendrina Mukwiilongo.

“There were other qualified people from the region who applied for that position,” Jash claimed.

Speaking to Nampa on the phone from Windhoek, Basson said the claim that the Hendrik Tseib Community Liaison Committee should handle recruitment is a big lie.

“Neckartal Dam is a government project. As such, it is impossible that a pressure group can be tasked with recruitment. This is not a community project. It is also not a //Karas, nor a Keetmanshoop project. It is a national project,” she said.

Basson said the Governor’s Office was involved in recruitment on behalf of government as it was a national project.

She further dismissed all claims of favouritism, salary discrepancies or alienation of the regional inhabitants.

“The Neckartal Dam project is not a small-time project to be run by unqualified people. Our understanding is that the dam is constructed on a very high international level and according to very technical international standards. Salini can recruit competent people from all over the country and also from elsewhere if the specialised skills are lacking.”

Basson said that the majority of the general workers on the project are from //Karas and that every Namibian has a right to work on the project.

She further told this agency that at this point in time, Salini and the Governor’s Office are enjoying cordial relations.

“There were problems in the past and some continue to crop up, but we have an open-door relationship and we deal with problems as it occurs on a day-to-day basis.

Salini representatives heard the petition from behind a closed gate and fence in the presence of security personnel.

The petition was received by Mukwiilongo who said: “We will respond accordingly”.

The demonstrators indicated they expect an answer in writing by 12h00 on Wednesday.

Italian construction company Salini Impregilo won the tender to build the N.dollars 2, 8 billion dam.

The project has habitually been plagued by protests and labour unrest.