A workshop manager at Strabag International – a Germany company contracted to construct the 47-kilometre Mzuzu-Nkhata Bay Road— has been arrested for racially abusing local workers.
The Roads Authority (RA) has since moved in to have the 46 years old German, Hinteregger Jurgen, immediately deported.
“He is not going back to work because we cannot have such a person working here. His presence affects progress of work and the good will between expatriate and local workers,” Portia Kajanga, RA Public Relations Officer said.
The whole drama started when one of Strabag’s drivers, Charles Devina, drove a water tanker on some metal bars and got the vehicle’s tyre to burst.
“While reversing within the camp near the place where the tanker fills water, one of the vehicle’s tyres got scratched by some metal bars. This did not go down well with Jurgen who shouted and called me a monkey and snatched vehicle keys from me,” Deniva said.
This did not please his fellow local drivers who witnessed the scene and resolved to boycott a night shift and entire work on the road.
“The stay-away continued on Saturday to the extent that staff members were called to a meeting by one of our immediate managers who recorded our grievances for presentation to management,” Deniva said.
The matter was on Saturday reported to Nkhata Bay police where statements were recorded.
NkhataBay Police Spokesperson Ignatius Esau said on Sunday Jurgen was still being kept at Mzuzu Police Station.
When we visited the station yesterday morning, The Daily Times found some of Strabag senior managers trying to negotiate for the release of their colleague.
One of the managers whom this reporter approached for the company’s side of the story refused to comment referring this reporter to the company’s public relations office at its base in Tanzania.
Asked on the future of the company’s contract with the government on the road, the manager said “all is well despite the incident.”
“Our work and contract remains intact with the government,” he said.
Before his repatriation, Esau said, Jurgen will be taken to court this week where he will answer charges of using insulting language.
Meanwhile, Kajanga said work on the K16.8 billion African Development Bank and Malawi Government-funded road will continue today following a workers’ agreement to return to work.