Job losses in the construction industry amounted to 10 000 as a result of government not paying contractors on time because of a contraction in the economy, according to the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW).
Job Muniaro, the secretary general of NUNW – the country’s largest trade union federation – also attributed the job losses in the sector to the fact that there is a crippling scarcity of water in the central areas.
Speaking to New Era, Muniaro said the government’s financial predicament put a halt to the awarding of new tender contracts and feasibility studies, which resulted in thousands of job losses.
He said many projects ranging from the construction of office buildings to constructing roads have been suspended, which resulted in retrenchments.
“To name just a few, the road between Aminuis and Gobabis in the Omaheke Region, the road between Namalubi, Isize and Luhonono in the Zambezi Region are currently on suspension, which resulted in over 10,000 job losses,” said Muniaro.
He said construction provides much needed work opportunities for some of the poorest and most marginalised sections of society, therefore if this trend continues, which is likely, many parents will struggle to send their children back to school next year.
Muniaro says the federation is also aware sub-contractors are struggling to pay workers because they are still awaiting payment from government.
“The contractors complain to us on a daily basis about the state of affairs in the industry – some have even told me that they are living a life of hide and seek because they haven’t paid their employees due to unpaid invoices by government,” he said.
Muniaro is of the view that if nothing is done within a few months many poor Namibians will have a miserable future.
Muniaro also used the opportunity to wish Namibians, and workers in particular, a merry Christmas – saying the festive season offers an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of workers and the challenges that remain.
Muniaro said workers must celebrate the hard work and efforts they have put in over the last 12 months.
But he warned they should do that conscious of the fact they have to save for the new year as January is usually characterised by extremely low cash flows among households because of the excesses of the festive season.
Many households are usually in a cash comatose in January because during December they spend as if there is no tomorrow.