Mariental Locals Sidelined


By Hoandi !Gaeb Mariental A row has erupted between building contractors of Mariental and those from outside the town after it has emerged that insurance companies have enlisted the services of building contractors – the majority of them from outside the town – to start renovation work on devastated property. In some cases construction companies from as far as Swakopmund were allegedly allocated tenders to rebuild Mariental’s flooded areas. These builders in turn bring in their own handymen and other personnel, thereby depriving local people of jobs. The situation has reached such proportions that the local municipality is considering to demand from insurance companies and their assessors that they allocate all jobs being carried out for the municipality to local construction companies and workers. Mariental Town Clerk Paul Nghiwilepo told New Era that he received news of local people being deprived of job opportunities in the rebuilding of their town after the floods. “I am extremely disappointed by the new developments as Mariental can offer the best construction workers in the country. We have local people who are skilled to do the job and it does not make sense to bring people from outside the town,” he said. On inquiry, a representative of one of the major insurance companies in Mariental told New Era that her company sent out a list of all builders who have been contracted to their clients. They have the right to choose which company they want to use. She admitted that some of the contractors on the list are from outside the town. “We cannot employ anyone to carry out the job as we need it to be done well. The damage to property is massive and we cannot just grab anyone from the street to do it,” she said. Meanwhile, the Governor of the Hardap Region Katrina Hanse made a compassionate plea to all insurance companies involved to consider local builders to carry out the job. “Mariental is going through a very difficult time. We need all stakeholders to join hands in order to redress the situation.” The governor further noted that many domestic workers who were employed in the flooded areas are now jobless. “Their employers cannot afford to pay their salaries as they are also facing a crisis. If their husbands and boyfriends can be employed now as temporary labourers, the plight of these people could be somehow eased.” Hanse said there are enough local talented and skilled workers who are not registered due to historic reasons. However, insurance companies and those who are in charge of allocating tenders could consider making use of them. “We are talking about black empowerment and assisting the formerly disadvantaged people. Here’s an opportunity to demonstrate that commitment clearly,” she said. The governor said if people are serious about helping Mariental to stand up on its feet again, they should look beyond qualifications and strict requirements of papers. “We need to stand together and consider changing standing rules to rescue the town and to help all its residents. The situation is more serious than many people believe and the unemployment rate will increase. We need to stand together,” she said. She concluded by calling on construction companies from outside the town and their managements not to capitalise on the situation, but to look at ways and means to accommodate local people. “The situation does not warrant selfishness. It calls for cooperation.” Short-term insurance companies last week put the claims for damages after the floods at N$80 million.