WALVIS BAY – Several Walvis Bay residents this week complained the authorities were giving Twaloloka inhabitants special treatment when it comes to land delivery at the expense of locals born and bred at the harbour town.
The sentiments were shared by a group called itself the Walvis Bay Community Association and petitioned the local municipality, demanding equality and fairness when it comes to the land issue.
According to community activist Mackenzie Neib, most of the Twaloloka residents are not from Walvis Bay, but have migrated to the town in search for greener pastures. “Yet they stand a better chance to receive plots while we have people born and raised in Walvis Bay who still live in backyard shacks,” he said.
“Why is preference given to these newcomers, while we have our own housing backlog? This is not the first time shacks burned down, why did those previous fire victims not receive plots as well? We demand equality and fairness.”
Walvis Bay has a huge backlog when it comes to service land and affordable housing. As a result, half of the town’s residents either find themselves living in backyard shacks or renting from other property owners.
Twaloloka residents, due to exorbitant rental prices, opted to illegally occupy land in 2015, resulting in the existence of the informal settlement.
Part of the settlement was gutted by fire on 27 July, leaving 154 households without homes, while a family also lost their son during the devastating fire.
The petition was received by communications officer Cathy Sheya on behalf of the municipality.
Twaloloka hits back
Meanwhile, the claims of special treatment did not sit well with Twaloloka residents, who on Monday hit back, saying Namibia is a free country and people are allowed to settle wherever they want.
Yolokeni Johannes, whose shack was destroyed in the 27 July fire, said it is sad that the “true” Walvis Bay residents did not stand alongside the “foreigners” when they demanded affordable land and housing since 2015.
“Where were they when we resorted to unconventional measures to get a roof over our heads even if it was a shack. We got shot at, clashed with the police and faced legal action and were also served eviction notices when we illegally occupied land in 2015,” Johannes remarked.
She then explained that every Namibian has a right to demand and apply for land wherever he or she settles.
“I am sure those making noise never applied for land, never attended community meetings, council meetings or engaged with leaders and demanded better services. Anyway, we should have talked about this issue in 2015 – not now that things look as if they are working out for us,” she said.
She added they have a right to decent and affordable housing just like anyone born in Walvis Bay.