South African-based construction, engineering and mining contractor Murray and Roberts has confirmed that it is ending its operations in Namibia. The company’s Managing Director for Namibia Anton Botha told The Patriot this week that the company is indeed leaving the country when it completes its current projects.
Without going into much detail, Botha said the company already negotiated exit packages with its workers and that the company will not pursue new contracts.
Botha could not provide the exact details pertaining to the imminent closure, saying: “I cannot give you a response [to the questions mailed to the company] because I did not get a response from our corporate office in South Africa to respond to you yet.”
The Patriot wanted to ascertain the number of workers that will be affected by the closure and whether it is true that the arrival of Chinese companies in the local construction industry had a major impact on Murray and Roberts in terms of landing major construction projects.
Murray and Roberts has partnered with Namibian companies for over 40 years and has secured lucrative construction contracts in Namibia especially before the mushrooming of Chinese firms in the local construction industry.
The constructor serves two designated market segments such as resources economy (mining and minerals) and power generation.
Mid last month, the company auctioned off its assets in anticipation of the closure.
Murray and Roberts was key in the construction of the 55 000 square-metre Grove Mall in Windhoek that cost just over N$1.1 billion.
The past few months have not been kind to the Murray and Roberts group, just last October it came under fire in South Africa when a temporary bridge at one of its construction sites in Johannesburg collapsed at the M1 highway in Johannesburg where a temporary bridge collapsed, killing two people and injuring several others in the process.
On the financial side, the group’s revenue dropped by almost N$6 billion from N$36 billion in 2014 to N$30.6 billion in 2015.“The reduction is mainly due to subdued markets, primarily in the oil and gas sector,” according to the group’s Full Integrated Report for 2015.
Its net cash dropped from N$1.8 billion in 2014 to N$1.4 billion in 2015, the group attributed this to the repayment of advance payments and acquisition funding.
Overall, the group said profitability was lower due to subdued market conditions during the year, primarily in the oil and gas business platform, and project underperformance mainly in the power and water business platform. Murray and Roberts was also involved in several education programmes in Namibia.
The group in the past entered into a memorandum of understanding that saw offer NTA trainees and trainers internship programmes and on-the-job training, as well as opportunities to become part of the group. The programme was open to welders, boilermakers, riggers, electrical, instrumentation and general construction trainees.