Money complaints haunt Walvis mass housing

WALVIS BAY: The sub-contractors working on the Mass Housing project in Walvis Bay are still complaining about a lack of money to pay their employees’ salaries.

The National Housing Enterprises (NHE), which run the national Mass Housing project, awarded the tender to 7 Sirs to construct 1 595 houses in Walvis Bay within a period of 18 months from March this year.

There are 70 houses currently under construction in the Kuisebmond residential area.

The South African company sub-contracted more than 10 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from Walvis Bay to construct houses for the project, but some sub-contractors say the payment from 7 Sirs has not been reaching them on time.

After waiting for their money since 13 March, the employees downed tools last Tuesday, only to return to work on Wednesday after they were promised that the money would be paid by Thursday.

Speaking to Nampa on condition of anonymity on Monday, some of the SME owners confirmed that they received the money on Thursday, but it was not enough to pay all their employees.

“There is a serious problem. We need a lot of money to pay our people, but we do not know where to get such finances. 7 Sirs only paid a little money,” one contractor said.

He explained that some houses have been completed, but nobody has been fully-compensated for it yet. They even risked taking money from their own pockets to pay the salaries of complaining employees, he added.

“I used N.dollars 7 900 from my pocket to pay some of my employees. Now, when the money came on Thursday, it was only N.dollars 15 000.

I finished three houses and one foundation, meaning I need more money to pay people who constructed the houses,” he charged.

Others noted that the verbal agreements they had with 7 Sirs stated that every house which they completed will be paid according to its size, for instance if a company completed a two-bedroom house, they would be paid about N.dollars 4 000.

They said the amounts they received last week however do not reflect the verbal agreements, meaning they still owe the employees, some of whom have now resigned due to non-payment.

“Some employees understand when we tell them there is no money, others keep asking for their money. We are in a difficult situation.

It is a good government project, but I think something must be done to ensure it succeeds,” another construction entrepreneur noted.

In response, Abdul Salomon, a site agent of 7 Sirs, told this agency that the sub-contractors were paid according to the work they had completed.

Salomon says the payments are based on the results of the evaluation done by the contractor.

He acknowledged that there is still money owed to these sub-contractors, which will be paid at the end of this month once the second evaluation is done.

“We followed the right procedures to pay them. However, we also have a problem with some of them, whose employees cannot do the work to the required standards.

We lost money after buying materials to reconstruct the structures which were destroyed because they were not building it right,” Salomon explained.

The site agent furthermore indicated that his company is busy restructuring the work process to come up with payment rates and employment contracts.

“Once we give them the written employment contracts, it will be stated in the documents that 7 Sirs will no longer cover for materials wasted.

The sub-contractors will have to buy materials if their employees make a construction mistake which results in a destroyed structure,” Salomon informed this reporter.

Last week, 7 Sirs’ director Alvin Naidoo said the sub-contractors will be given written employment contracts this week.