Cyclone Idai workers cry foul over unpaid dues

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By Paidashe Mandivengerei

CONSTRUCTION workers who were hired to rebuilt classroom blocks and other structures destroyed by the Cyclone Idai disaster in March this year are up in arms with government which has failed to pay them for their services.

The harsh tropical storm barrelled through Chimanimani and Chipinge areas demolishing infrastructure, property and causing massive death and environment damage.

It was declared a national disaster by government with over 300 people killed while hundreds are still unaccounted for.

Following the catastrophe, government in April engaged the department of public works to build classroom blocks, toilets and teachers’ cottages to replace the destroyed infrastructure.

Speaking to on condition of anonymity, a worker who formed part of the group in Chimanimani said government has dumped them after ordering a halt in construction in July.

Said the disgruntled worker, “We worked daily in our village schools, constructing Blair toilets, classroom blocks and teachers’ houses. Work was daily; no weekend or public holidays.

“We signed contracts but in July 2019, work stopped abruptly. To date, we have not received any payment.”

The builder added that when they tried to engage authorities on the matter, they were referred to several provincial offices where they got no assistance.

“No office responds satisfactorily. They keep shifting positions; referring us to different offices like Provincial Administrator; next it’s to Provincial Education Officer, next they say it’s Provincial Public Works director Manicaland.

“I am owed RTGS$2000. Each school in the district had 10 casual workers reporting to permanent employees, artisan builders who also reported to the Public Works Director in Manicaland.”

Reached for a comment, Manicaland Provincial Administrator, Edgar Seenza confirmed the construction workers had not been paid as government did not have the money at the time but the payments were now being processed.

“We had not received funding but last week, we received it to cover all those costs including Travel & Subsistence (T&S) for all workers both casual and government officers.

“Paperwork to pay them is now being done at my office and they are being paid in batches as they cannot all be paid in one day and we must make sure we follow the necessary documentation as is required by government.”