18 February 2019

Namibia: Construction Sector Wants Regulation

TJIPENANDJAMBI KUHANGA

THE Namibian Construction Industries Federation (CIF) has appealed to lawmakers to establish a national council for the construction sector to regulate it.

In a press statement last week, the federation said regulating the industry could ensure better opportunities for the sector, as well as address the extent of foreign involvement that is detrimental to local contractors.

The CIF stated that a less regulated environment will provide the scope for many players , including tenderpreneurs and foreign companies, to operate without being registered in Namibia.

"The effect of such an unregulated environment is that legitimate local contractors with adequate capacity are increasingly being pushed aside; and that ongoing local capacity-building, continued employment and the provision of decent work are increasingly being undermined," the statement said.

A draft bill for the establishment of a national construction council was reviewed last November at a stakeholders workshop.

The ministry of works organised the workshop, and the CIF is thus hopeful that the importance of the greater regulation of the sector will be recognised when a revised bill is tabled in the National Assembly.

CIF's consulting general manager, Bärbel Kirchner, said although they have waited for long, she is confident a national construction council will become a reality in Namibia.

"All our neighbours in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region have such councils to regulate their construction industries, an industry which now involves negotiations in the trade of services in the SADC region," she observed.

Kirchner said without any legislation for the construction sector, there would be an increase in the sector's vulnerability, especially if there were to be negotiations to liberalise trade in construction services.

She reiterated that everyone knows how vulnerable this industry is, which is why greater regulation in the interest of the survival of the construction industry is critically important.

"With the large-scale retrenchments and business closures in our industry, we need the required legislation to establish a council for the industry as soon as possible," she said, adding that there is also a need to introduce some significant changes for a lasting positive impact on the construction industry.

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