- Prime Minister Hage Geingob announced this morning that recent oil exploration off the Walvis Bay coast has confirmed that the country has oil reserves, although not in commercial volumes.
‘Anything can happen if you don’t play it safe’
Natangwe Nakasore is one of the most experienced heavy equipment operators in town and has been in the business for more than 30 years. He believes that the country needs more people to help develop the country which is seeing a lot of infrastructural development. Namibian Sun caught up with him at a construction site in Windhoek.
What does a heavy equipment operator do?
The duties of this person vary, but the basic one is that we do excavation, drilling and a bit of construction.
We operate heavy equipment machinery that develops the foundation or the basis where a structure must be erected. We develop an area and level it to a standard where construction can take place. Sometimes we drill water boreholes and also destroy unwanted structures.
Briefly describe your normal day at work
We start our day with a prayer. After that, we consult with the foreman on the job we did the previous day and where we should start for the new day. In most cases, we continue where we left off the previous day, but if we go to a new site, we start from scratch. We work according to a detailed work-plan that is given to us by the foreman.
What personality skills do you need to be a heavy equipment operator?
Generally you work with equipment a lot and once you start working you hardly talk to people. This is a tough job. You must be alert at all times so that you do not make mistakes. You must be well rested because you need a lot of energy throughout the day to perform the jobs with efficiency. The other aspect is that you must know what you are doing and that is where the experience comes in. If you are not well trained, you might cause accidents. Also, you must be focused at all times and that requires a lot of concentration.
What are the major challenges in your job?
The biggest challenge is the safety aspect. We make sure that the site or the area where we work conforms to the highest safety standards and that also includes the equipment we use. There is nothing else than safety when dealing with heavy duty jobs because the machines do not speak and anything can happen if you don’t play it safe. Another challenge sometimes is the long working hours because we must finish a certain job within a given time and that can require a lot of effort.
What tools or equipment do you use on a daily basis?
For the construction industry we use earth moving equipment. These range from graders, tippers, dozers, 824 tyre dozers, 336D excavators and smaller tools such as hammers, shovels and pick axes for digging.
How did you get involved in this type of job?
I started operating these heavy duty trucks and graders from a young age when I used to work at Consolidated Diamond Mining (CDM, known as Namdeb today). We received training there and I am able to handle all heavy duty trucks, graders and dozers.
Do you think it is rewarding enough?
Of course one feels good once a job has been completed successfully. It can be financially rewarding as we sometimes get paid for overtime work. In general it is a rewarding job if you really like doing it.
Would you recommend this job to anyone?
I think our country needs young people who can start operating some of the heavy duty machinery. We don’t have a lot of young people who are involved in this field and I think our country, which is fast developing in especially the construction sector, needs people in this trade. It is highly recommended because sometimes we get people from other countries that come and do the same job as me, while we can employ our own people.