Individuals and businesses that cling on to undeveloped land, with no intention of developing it, should return it before the law takes its course.
In fact, they should take what they need and give the rest back, instead of keeping it when the country struggles with affordable housing in towns such as Walvis Bay.
Nghidinua Daniel, the executive director of the urban and rural development ministry, made the pronouncements when he was touring the newly constructed houses for the Twaloloka fire victims at Walvis Bay on Tuesday.
Daniel’s remarks come after journalists raised the issue of developers not utilising the land and also owing millions to municipalities in terms of rates and taxes, especially in Walvis Bay.
According to municipal sources, at least four developers owe the Walvis Bay municipality about N$18 million in water, rates and taxes. Some of these monies date as far back as 2015.
The arrears were accumulated after they bought tracts of land for further development at the town but never developed it.
According to Daniel, this particular issue was highlighted during the second national land conference in 2018.
“One of the resolutions from that national land conference is that unutilised land should be given back to ensure it is optimally utilised. Although your question only addresses one part of the issue, it very important that the colleagues from the media help government and the administration to also address the people who are actually holding on to such land without utilising it,” Daniel said.
He added that government could take control of such land as well and institute regulatory measures on such developers.
“However, that should not be. Government cannot regulate every aspect of our lives. We just have to be responsible by only taking what you need and what you can afford and leave the rest to others. Don’t allow the law to force you to do so,” he said.
Walvis Bay mayor Trevino Forbes also indicated that the town is in the process of weighing all legal options in addressing the issue.
“Council is looking at such individuals, developers and those who owe council millions in terms of rates and taxes. In short, we will deal with it,” Forbes said.
The Swakopmund municipal council earlier this year cancelled the sale of four erven that were initially sold to four companies represented by the town’s former mayor Juuso Kambueshe.
The plots were sold through private treaty in 2018 but had to be cancelled due to an outstanding payment of N$29 million.
The said plots had a purchase price ranging from N$2.8 million to N$4.1 million and were supposed to be sold for N$13.9 million altogether.