U.S Embassy’s new head office takes shape – ‘Topping out’ ceremony held
The U.S. Embassy held a ‘topping out ceremony at the site of its new head office to celebrate the construction of the building reaching its highest point.
The ceremony was hosted by the Embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires, Jess Long, and attended by the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Jenelly Matundu. The new building is on schedule for completion in 2023.
“This state-of-the-art Embassy will be the platform from which the United States and Namibia fight COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, and future pandemics that might threaten the world. This Embassy will partner with Namibia to make clean energy from solar and green hydrogen. From this platform, Namibia and the United States will grow both economies together through new trade ties, as we’ve done with beef, beer, and charcoal. We will fight international smuggling and trafficking, which threaten human rights, legitimate commerce, and wildlife,” Long said.
American construction firm BL Harbert is leading the project and employs 810 workers at the site, of which 761 are Namibian. BL Harbert runs construction projects worldwide.
To celebrate the ‘topping out’ of the new U.S. Embassy, the construction team built a tree of metal rebar then hung from the tree flags representing each of the 21 nationalities working at the site. Long and Matundu attached the United States and Namibian flags to the metal rebar tree, which was then hoisted by crane to the stand on the top of the building.
Project Manager Dave Bowling, who leads BL Harbert in Namibia, explained that topping out a building structure with a tree is a long-held tradition in the construction industry.
Last month, BL Harbert invited Namibian engineering students to the construction site to help them learn in a practical way so that they are more likely to succeed when they graduate.
The construction of the U.S. Embassy is expected to inject over US$17 million into the Namibian economy through salaries and contracts to local companies.
The U.S State Department’s Bureau of Overseas Building Operations leads the overall construction of this and all new U.S. Embassies built overseas.
BL Harbert employs more women on this Embassy construction project in Namibia, 59 women, than any of its other project in the world. Standing with the women in the middle 8th from the left is the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation’s Head of Bilateral Affairs, Amb. Sabine Böhlke-Möller, MIRCO Executive Director, Amb. Penda Naanda, Chargé d’Affaires, Jessica Long, and the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Jenelly Matundu.