400 Shang’ombo sugar project workers remain unpaid
By Staff Reporter
Over 400 employees of Programme Against Discrimination in Communities (PADIC) Shang’ombo sugar plantation are languishing in poverty due to non-payment of their dues.
One of the workers, Dominic Shomena told NewsDayZambia.com in Shangombo last week that the sugar plantation which began operations in 2014 had disappointed the locals.
“We had hope that the sugar project would benefit people of Shangombo and Western Province at large – 400 people were employed but most of them have not been paid to date,” Shomena lamented.
Shomena narrated that land was allocated to the proprietors of the project in Shandabi area, 15 kilometres from Shang’ombo administrative headquarters.
“In 2013 we saw alot of contractors coming on site and this cheered the residents,” Shomena said.
He explained that alot of young people migrated to Namibia in search of employment but with the coming of the sugar plantation they were optimistic the trend would end.
“Young people had shown interest in the project but got discouraged after all the contractors pulled out,” he said.
Shomena expressed his frustration at the failure by the project managers to communicate effectively with the workers.
He also blamed lack of government involvement in the management of the project to its failure.
“I feel that the project has not benefited the people of Shang’ombo and the then Provincial minister Nathaniel Mubukwanu distanced himself after we complained,” he said.
Shomena further disclosed that equipment that was on site had been moved to unknown place.
And Shang’ombo District Commissioner retired captain Lawrence Nyambe said the collapse of the project was saddening.
Capt. Nyambe explained that residents expected the project to change the face of Shangombo.
“I personally feel that management team did not put up a good plan to attract finances because to some extent they started talking of constructing roads from here to Sikongo District,” he said.
Capt. Nyambe however, expressed optimism the project would get back to life after new management had been appointed.
“Am hopeful that with new management the project will kick off and services will be delivered,” he said.
Capt. Nyambe explained that the sugar project was important for economic development in the area.
And when contacted for a comment PADIC director Sitali Sitali said he was aware that some workers were not paid.
“They should wait, our public relations officer will soon announce the date to pay them,” he assured.
The project awarded US$200million to a finish energy firm, NOCART to set up a 100megawatt solar power plant to power the Shang’ombo sugar plantation.
PADIC project, which was expected to create 2,500 jobs was allocated 30,000 hectares of land in the Barotse Royal Establishment for the sugar plantation which also included construction of about 1,000 houses in Shang’ombo and Sikongo districts.