West Construction Launches Internship Program for Young Liberians
Monrovia – At least 50 students are said to be benefiting from an internship program launched by the West-Kevcon Construction, a company hired by government to construct the new Redemption Hospital.
Report by Edwin G. Genoway, Jr (00231886458910)[email protected]
The company’s internship is currently being run for engineering students from various universities in Liberia.
In the program, the company provides monthly allowances to enable beneficiaries get to their various training sites. Students from the various universities are allowed to apply for the program and when shortlisted and accepted, the company provides job training and money for allowance.
The program is open to students from all the universities, including the University of Liberia, Stella Maris Polytechnic and AME University.
The company has hired some of those who came there as interns and after their various graduation exercises, they were hired as contractors.
One of the students, who is currently benefiting from the program is Joyce Lawuobah Sumo from the Stella Maris. Ms. Sumo told FrontPageAfrica that she applied for the program in 2018, due to her performance on the job, the company decided to still keep her.
“I haven’t graduated yet; I am still a student at the Stella Maris and working at the West Construction Company. Yes, indeed, I am benefiting from the internship program; it has helped me a lot,” she disclosed.
Samora Octhere is another beneficiary. He is an engineering graduate from the University of Liberia.
Samora said the program has helped him a lot since he started serving as intern but disclosed that he has been elevated at the level of an engineer by the company since he has a degree in Engineering.
“I have learned a lot since I came here as intern. As you may be aware engineering is practical and I really learned the practical aspect of engineering at the site of West Construction where I was being assigned,” he explained.
“I am happy that I was recommended by friends and as God could have I am now seated as engineer for such a big company. To find a job as new graduate in Liberia, it is not easy, but I am grateful I am successful with the program,”
The human resource consultant, Pewee Flomoku, said the company also has special arrangement for females, both skills and unskilled.
“We have females, who are competing with males in all aspects of the construction work. The company is environmentally sensitive and also focus on community engagement and our interns play a major role,” he noted.
Flomoku used the opportunity rebuffs claims by some unskilled daily hires that the company is engaged in bad labor practices.
The workers alleged that the company underpays unskilled laborers, does not provide transportation, deducts high amounts as taxes and National Social Security & Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP) premium.
However, Flomoku said the firm pays a minimum wage of US$7 to US$15 daily rate to daily hires, and not the US$3.50 the 2015 Decent Work Act requires.
He said the company pays this much to motivate the workers (mostly Liberians) looking at the prevailing economic situation.
On the vexing issue of taxes, Pewee mentioned the Government requires companies operating in Liberia to withhold taxes from their workers and/or employees.
He explained that of the 10 percent workers’ contribution to NASSCORP, to date, the company pays six percent while the workers four percent. Regarding transportation, he stated the company has no budget to cover daily hires’ conveyance because they are non-employees.
“It is all this misunderstandings, according to FrontPageAfrica, the unskilled daily hires term as ‘abusing their rights’.
“The company feeds the almost 400 plus daily hires and provides safe-drinking water as oppose to assertions that the workers beg for food from friends because the company refuses to live up to promises to give them US$50 when assigned outstation every month.
Every worker that is moved to a construction site is provided lodging and feeding.” In addition, WEST Kevcon makes available safety gears (steel-toe boots, helmets, gloves, goggles, reflective vests, etc.) and all necessary working equipment to carry out their tasks.
Touching on claims that the company is in cohort with criminals that it pays the workers at night hours for suspected thieves to attack them, Pewee said it is unthinkable that a reputable company like WEST Kevcon would connive with criminals to attack its workers and take away monies paid to them. “To improve this, considering the safety of staff and workers, the company increased the number of paying teams and adjusted the paying time to the extent that it has not received any complaints since then.