Regulation to ensure the survival of the local construction sector has become critical
The resumption of parliament this week prompted the Construction Industries Federation of Namibia to call for a speedy consideration by the lawmakers of the bill for the establishment of a National Construction Council.
The industry must be regulated and foreigners must be barred from hijacking Namibian employment opportunities, “which currently is to the detriment of Namibian contractors,” stated the Federation adding that it is optimistic that parliament will focus on ensuring better opportunities for the local construction sector.
A draft bill for the establishment of a National Construction Council was reviewed at a stakeholder workshop on 21 November 2018, organised by the Ministry of Works and Transport, under the auspices of the Deputy Minister, Hon James Sankwasa. The Federation said it is hopeful that the importance of greater regulation of the sector will be recognised when a revised bill is re-tabled before the National Assembly.
Citing the critical need for regulation, the Federation named opportunistic tenderpreneurs, foreign companies, and unqualified contractors, as the most pressing evils besetting the legitimate construction companies.
“The effect of such an unregulated environment is that legitimate local contractors with adequate capacity are increasingly pushed aside; and that ongoing local capacity building, continued employment and the provision of decent work, increasingly is undermined,” stated the Federation.
On the prospects for a revised bill, the Federation’s consulting general manager, Bärbel Kirchner said “Despite having a waited for a long time, we remain hopeful that a Namibian Construction Council will soon become a reality. All our neighbours in the SADC region have such a council to regulate their construction industries.”
Pointing out that the industry is now also involved in the SADC negotiations on Trade in Services, Kirchner said “without any Namibian legislation for the construction sector we would increase our sector’s vulnerability if we were to negotiate to increasingly liberalise the trade in construction services”.
In the absence of formal regulation, the impact of large-scale retrenchments and business closures has reverberated across the industry severely affecting both employers and employees.
“It is not only important that Namibian contractors are able to survive under current circumstances, but once we have steered through the difficult times, we would also like to see our industry thrive in the interest of Namibia and our people at large.”