WALVIS BAY – At least 1 029 households will be temporarily relocated at Walvis Bay and Swakopmund as part of efforts to fight Covid-19. This follows a Cabinet meeting this week where a directive was issued to relocate residents from densely populated areas, aimed at containing the spread of Covid-19.
Information minister Peya Mushelenga said Cabinet resolved that 300 families from Twaloloka informal settlement be relocated to a piece of land that belongs to the National Housing Enterprise (NHE).
Mushelenga also announced that another 500 residents would be relocated to Farm 37, while 192 families will move to another piece of land owned by the Walvis Bay municipality.
About 50 families will also be moved to houses constructed under the mass housing programme at Walvis Bay. Only 29 houses are currently available for this purpose at Swakopmund.
Meanwhile, the Walvis Bay municipal council said it was considering suspending some of its capital projects that were planned for the 2020/2021 financial year to divert some of the funds to service some of the identified areas under the decongestion plan.
Half of Walvis Bay’s residents, about 50 000, live in backyard shacks and are subjected to deplorable living conditions without proper sanitation.
Speaking to New Era yesterday about the envisaged plan as a response to flatten the curve of Covid-19, mayor Immanuel Wilfred said they have identified two blocks of land at Walvis Bay and two more blocks at Farm 37 for this exercise.
The lack of proper housing and sanitation is seen as a major contributor to the rapid spread of Covid-19 at the harbour town, where most of the residents are squatting in backyard shacks.
“In this regard, President Hage Geingob urged local authorities in Swakopmund and Walvis Bay to look at alternative measures that also include the temporary housing of some residents in empty houses,” the mayor said.
Wilfred, however, explained yesterday that the town only had 60 unoccupied houses, but those were already allocated to residents who are expected to move into their new homes.
“We are also in talks with the central government and our line ministry in terms of financial assistance so that we fast-track the process and move our residents. Residents should just be patient as we are trying our best to move those in need as soon as possible. No one should go and illegally occupy land as they have to enter into agreements before we can proceed as the process is just a temporary solution,” he said.
After the lengthy meeting councillors resolved that an estimated N$10 million be approved for the servicing of land. The council also approved to avail land to NHE by January 2021 for the continuation of its development on the land.
“Should, for unforeseen circumstances, the inability to return the land as expected occurs, alternative land should be made available to NHE with the consideration of all costs already incurred by NHE on the land,” one of the resolutions reads.
Lilly van Wyk, a backyard squatter, yesterday told New Era she was hoping to be moved to the new piece of land. “We live in shacks due to circumstances we found ourselves in, so we really hope that our leaders listen to our pleas and help us. We are scared of the coronavirus,” she said.
Another resident Samuel Shitaleni said he was evicted last week from his shack due to non-payment. Shitaleni said he lost his cleaning job three months ago and is now forced to squat with a family in an overcrowded shack.
“I want to go back to the north but I can’t as I don’t have money to travel nor are we allowed to leave Walvis Bay now,” he said.