THE desperation of those struggling to find jobs in Namibia was on full display at Walvis Bay yesterday, where more than 1 500 jobseekers applied for 11 general worker positions on a NamWater project.
There was no sign of social distancing amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic as 50 names were drawn from a box to make the shortlist.
These applicants were then interviewed by a panel which would select the 11 successful recruits.
The panel’s selection results were expected later yesterday.
Earlier in the day, men and women between the ages of 20 and 50 descended on the office of the Walvis Bay Rural constituency – both outside and inside the building’s yard – where the recruitment process would take place.
The 11 successfull candidates will join seven other employees on the Rooikop water pipeline upgrade behind Dune 7.
According to NamWater’s Petrus Cosmos, the company advertised the positions last Monday through the constituency councillor’s office.
“These are entry-level jobs which require no experience, only someone who is physically fit and able to carry out the work,” he said.
The project will last six months and is expected to commence on 1 June.
The Namibian learned that applicants yesterday arrived at the constituency councillor’s office shortly after the Covid-19 curfew ended.
This was Efraim Kham’s (45) seventh attempt at landing a job with NamWater.
“I have a family to feed and I need to keep my children in school. I will not give up. I was not lucky this time around and will go back to selling !naras until my luck for a job turns,” he said yesterday.
Medusalem Shinene (28) has been at home for over three months since his last fish-offloading job at Tunacor.
Unemployed artisan Tobias Kamati and many others said they were satisfied with the selection process.
“This is the first time I saw a transparent selection process.
“I am hoping they would come back to those of us who did not get selected,” Kamati said.
Ena Tjimbi (29) from Opuwo Rural constituency came to Walvis Bay six months ago, hoping to get a job.
He has been cleaning yards and washing windows since his arrival.
“Today I called my clients to tell them I cannot come in. I didn’t give them a reason, and I was hoping to get someone to take up my job. But I can see Walvis Bay is just like Opuwo. There are no jobs, and I will just continue to hustle,” he said.
The majority of Walvis Bay Rural constituency residents live in rented backyard shacks at Tutaleni and the Namport area.
Others used to live at the Twaloloka informal settlement.
Constituency councillor Florian Tegako yesterday said it is unfortunate that people have to risk their lives for survival.
“… many people are unemployed and suffering, which is why they came in large numbers. It’s very unfortunate that during a time we are fighting a pandemic we have such a gathering,” he said.
He said his office is always inundated with requests for food and sometimes money so that people can pay their municipal bills.
His hands are tied in terms of employment creation, as his constituency is within a local authority, he said.
“Outside the boundaries of the local authority, there is not much I can do. There are projects going on, and that is where the drought-relief food is going,” he said.
According to the Namibia Statistics Agency, the unemployment rate for Namibians between the ages of 15 and 34 increased from 43,4% in 2016 to 46,1% by the end of 2018.
In addition, the unemployment rate for those between 19 and 34 stood at 44% in 2018.
Out of the 854 567 young people under 34 in 2018, some 71,3% had only junior secondary and primary education, while 34,5% had no formal education.
The Namibian in January reported that more than 12 000 workers were retrenched in 2020.
Bro-Matthew Shinguadja, the executive director of labour, industrial relations and employment creation, said the 12 198 workers who lost their jobs in 2020 were employed across 896 companies.
The Ministry of Health and Social Services last week expressed concern over the spike in the number of new Covid-19 infections in the country.
Ben Nangombe, the executive director of health, said the ministry is specifically concerned about large gatherings – especially where people do not wear masks or observe social distancing.
“The ministry of health has cautioned all members of the public to strictly comply with all public health regulations to suppress and prevent the further spread of Covid-19,” he said.
Erongo community affairs police commander chief inspector Ileni Shapumba yesterday said adhering to regulations is everyone’s responsibility, but event organisers must enforce them.
“One cannot blame the jobseekers entirely. Everyone wants a job, but they must observe health protocols. You don’t need someone to remind you to do that, … but organisers must think of measures that would prevent people from gathering in that way,” he said.