Some expatriate engineers that are contracted under the Ministry of Works and Transport, face eviction, as the ministry is struggling to settle their rentals, the Windhoek Observer has been told.
According to a reliable source within the ministry, the expats have been asked to settle the bills and claim refunds when the ministry has money, while others have already been served notices to vacate their places of residence if arrears are not settled. The engineers are in the country under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that was signed in 2012, which saw Zimbabwe providing engineers to work on capital projects, while transferring skills to Namibians.
There are about 85 Zimbabwean engineers currently working under the Ministry of Works and Transport.
As part of the engineers’ contracts, the ministry is supposed to provide accommodation in a secure area for the duration of their stay in Namibia.
The engineers are accommodated across the capital, with many of them residing in Rocky Crest and Hochland Park.
Engineers living in Hochland Park pay about N$12,000 for a three-bedroomed apartment.
A resident, who spoke to the Windhoek Observer on condition of anonymity, said they were given 10 days to vacate if payment is not made soon.
According to Henry Ludwig, Chairperson of the Body Corporate of Aviva Gardens Hochland Park, where some of the engineers stay, they have already consulted their lawyers over the non-payment of rentals. The ministry’s spokesperson, Julius Ngweda, said they were aware of the issue and were busy sorting out the payments.
He said the ministry had already forwarded invoices to the Ministry of Finance for processing, thus he was confident that the matter would be resolved soon.
“We also have some other bills that have to be paid, it is not that there is no money, but it is because the process between the body corporate invoicing the ministry and the invoices getting to the Ministry of Finance takes a bit long,” he said.
He added that the Ministry of Finance has been upgrading their system, resulting in payments taking longer than usual.
“We apologise dearly for any inconveniences caused,” he said.
The engineers are experts in civil/structural, electrical, mechanical, quantity surveying and architecture.
The foreign nationals were given five-year contracts and the majority of them have been in the country since 2012, with some of them deployed to the regions.
The Windhoek Observer also understands that some of the expats, whose contracts have already expired, have been given a three-month extension while the ministry decides whether to renew their contracts or not. Ngweda said the ministry will have to assess whether they still need the engineers whose contracts have expired before they can make a final decision.