Coen Welsh | Nov 14, 2017 | 0
A day in the life of a construction worker
Phineas struggles to contain his disappointment as the rains continue to pour down with no end in sight. He strategically places his last bucket alongside his bed, certain that should the weather persist, more water is bound to come through the leaking roof.
He has been wanting to patch up his roof for sometime but the Chinese construction firm he works for as a supervisor had his men busy in a rush to finish another North Korean style War Memorial on the outskirts of Windhoek. Delayed and over budget, the memorial is scheduled to open on Cassinga Day. It’s a rush getting the final work in, even more, it’s a challenge for Phineas to spur his men on who feel over-worked and under-paid.
Phineas is a supervisor with Rising Sun Construction, another of a plethora of Chinese-owned construction companies operating in Namibia. Early in the morning when it is still dark, Phineas leaves his shack in a hurry. He is late and it’s dark. Much of Windhoek is still asleep as he heads for the point where the comopany truck picks them up. He boards the truck and heads to the construction site, eager to put in another day’s work. Phineas is in no state of mind to work. His mind is elsewhere, 900 kilometres away in a village in the north. The start of the school season has left Phineas penniless.
A devoted father, Phineas will stop at nothing and works hard to provide his children with everything he deems necessary in their lives. Of greater concern is the family village. He needs to get money together to send with Silas who is leaving at five. He is concerned for his goats. He has been hoping to hear the rainy season has come out in the north in full force.
As the truck arrives at the site Phineas makes his way to the makeshift office to meet Master Yu. Phineas enjoys working with Yu. Yu drives a hardline but genuinely has the workers’ interests at heart. Yu succeeded Bing. Bing was an absolute a**hole whose presence inspired fear in the workers. The company sent Bing back after a tussle with a worker.
Chinese construction companies are playing safe and are actually abide by the laws set out. It’s an election year and the SWAPO Party could not care less what the original arrangements with the Chinese were. It is time to put in a good show for the voters. Similarly, opposition parties are keeping a close watch hoping for that one moment when a Chinese citizen will force yet another worker to do an obnoxious of things.
The day comes to a close – incident free. Much to everyone’s delight, the rain has stopped meaning they do not have to worry about wet beds and no electricity. The majority of these men reside in shacks in a shanty town on the outskirts of Katutura. Sweaty men head back to their respective trucks. Phineas humbly boards the rear compartment of the truck even though he can sit in front with the driver. The rear compartment has no windows and is fully enclosed. He looks forward to get home.
Because of Yu, these men can celebrate an early day off. More importantly though, Phineas will make it home just in time to give Silas the money he has been hoarding under his bed for months now. One less worry to worry about in a whole sea of troubles.