Namibia: Railway Contractor Sources Majority of Workers From Coastal Communities for Swakop Walvis Line

As subcontractor, D&M Rail has just started with the rehabilitation of the 52 km railway line between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay as one of the last stretches to upgrade existing lines linking the port to the interior and to the north.

D&M Rail Chief Operating Officer, Johan Laubscher said that over the past few years, the company has constructed and maintained more than 600 km of track, and built several sidings for private companies.

"Although we are subcontracted to the main contractor and only have 20% of the contract, D&M Rail Construction brings with it a hub of railway engineers and technicians with unrivalled experience to ensure that this project is a success. During the following 13 months, we will be removing tracks and sleepers and replacing them with new sleepers and tracks to ensure a world-class, well-functioning railway system," commented Laubscher.

D&M Rail's HR manager, MC Kooper stated that the majority of those employed on the Swakopmund Walvis Bay line, is from the coast. "The company brought in only 54 employees consisting of platelayers, experienced general workers and other skilled employees from Otjiwarongo, Otavi, Ondangwa, Tsumeb, Kalkfeld and Omaruru. The rest are sourced from the region," he said adding that it is company policy to employ as many as possible workers for local contracts from the communities in the same area.

Training began immediately and a number of employees have already completed training as machine operators, safety and first aid officers, fire fighters and protection officers.

Furthermore, D&M Rail's decision to make use of mainly local contractors to provide essential goods and services has ensured that in the past five months of setting up office in Swakopmund it has spend in excess of N$1 million per month on local contractors.

"We are fully aware of the effects the Covid-19 pandemic had on the economy of the region but remain confident that our little contribution will go some way in alleviating some of these effects. We remain committed to employment creation and the socio-economic development of the communities in which we operate," stated Laubscher.

Upon starting work on the Swakopmund Walvis Bay railway line, D&M Rail immediately started training local workers in site and operational safety.

More From: Namibia Economist

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