Payout for Khorixas Mass Housing Project Workers Next Week

BY next week Wednesday, more than twenty construction workers employed by Guinas Investment, which is contracted by the Namibian Housing Enterprise (NHE) to construct 181 houses at Khorixas, will be paid out before they travel back to the North.

This decision was reached yesterday between the Chinese managers and the construction workers at the labour ministry’s office at the north-western town.

“I have to travel to Windhoek tomorrow to fetch the documents of the workers, so that they will be paid out next week. Those who were not paid for leave days will be paid as well,” a Chinese who identified himself as Bingo said. Bingo was a translator at yesterday’s meeting as the Khorixas-based Chinese managers only speak Mandarin.

A spokesperson for the construction workers said “We have suffered a lot and are looking forward to going back to the North where we can look for better jobs. It was hell at Khorixas,”. The spokesperson added that they were delighted that those who were not paid for leave days will be paid next week.

Hoandi Hendricks, an official from the ministry who chaired the meeting, said he will send a report on the matter to the Outjo or Kamanjab labour offices.

The construction workers came from Oshana,Ohangwena, Oshikoto and Omusati regions last February.

The workers, mostly bricklayers joined by one general worker, downed their tools last Sunday, alleging that the company was not paying them a decent wage. They also told The Namibian that the company has not provided them with accommodation and food allowances and that the company’s Chinese managers mistreat them.

The bricklayers also alleged that the Chinese managers require them to lay 600 to 700 bricks in a day and also order them to plaster an entire house within a day, a practice which they say amounts to mistreatment.

Communication between the bricklayers and their Chinese employers takes place in sign language since the workers do not understand Mandarin and the Chinese do not understand English. The Chinese managers sell cement pallets for N$300 each, which are used by the construction workers as beds.

The bricklayers are accommodated at unfinished Build Together Programme houses with no running water or toilets. The spokesperson of the workers said that their working conditions are unbearable.

The construction workers are at times used by the Chinese for private tenders such as the renovation of a Chinese shop at Khorixas. The Chinese managers have constructed a huge house for themselves with all needed facilities such as running water and proper sanitation – a luxury which the Namibian workers can only dream of. The construction workers had also reported their grievances to the Kamanjab labour inspector Phillip Kakoandi, who said he was at Khorixas several times but due to the language barrier he could not communicate with the Chinese managers.

Kakoandi on Tuesday said the workers’ health and safety are taken for granted and the Chinese are not adhering to the minimum wage requirements. The Chinese also let the construction workers pay for protective clothing that the workers wear.

The Khorixas mass housing project is at a standstill as only a few workers – mostly welders and eletricians – remain at the building site.

Source : The Namibian