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Home sweet home for Otweya families

2021-11-02  Eveline de Klerk

Home sweet home for Otweya families
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Eveline de Klerk

WALVIS BAY – Otweya resident Asnath Kangandi is in a celebratory mood while embracing her young son. Yesterday marked a new beginning for over 150 families moving to their own one-bedroom houses, built by themselves with the assistance of the Shack Dwellers Federation and the Namibian government. “Today, we are sleeping in our own home, my son. We have been waiting for so long for this day to come,” she says.

These families have been sharing small tents since July last year – when they were left homeless by one of the biggest shack fires in the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak in Walvis Bay.

The fire killed a two-year-old boy and left over 200 families homeless at the town, who already faced challenges with affordable housing and serviced land. Despite the tragedy, Kangandi, along with the families, have reason to celebrate.

They are packing up all their belongings for the big move. “I am so happy and grateful to our government and everyone else who have made our dreams a reality. We have homes now – something we could only dream about in the past,” she exclaimed.

Another resident Yolokeni Johannes also said they are happy to finally move into their own homes. She says the majority of the residents want to move; however, there are a few who are still unhappy.

“Government really responded to our plight – and we don’t want our relocation to be overshadowed by negativity,” she says. According to Johannes, they will each fork out about N$350 per month for the next 15 years – apart from them paying their own water and electricity connections.

The houses will cost them at least N$40 000 each, with an addition of 4% interest annually. “Some of the people wanted the houses for free – but it can’t be free. We have many people living in shacks at Walvis Bay. It is now our duty to make sure we pay our houses on time every month, so that the money can be used to help others to get houses too,” she explained.

 

Members of the Walvis Bay fire brigade helped the resident to load their belongings on municipal trucks to their new houses, while some started to clean up the area as soon as a family is moved.

 

“We are planning to move at least 50 families per day – and hope that we will complete the whole move by Wednesday,” said fire officer Ephraim Kathindi.

However, upon arrival at the new houses, a furious Walvis Bay Rural councillor Donatus Tegako exchanged words with some of the officials and the Otweya committee over the relocation.

Tegako said the housing list was tempered with.As a result, he said, people were taken from the streets and given houses, while the initial recipients were taken off the list.

“I don’t know what is going on. This process is just a mess – and I want it to be suspended so that those who tempered with the list come clean,” a furious Tegako said.

“I am tired of hearing accusations – and I can tell you that people are being taken from the location and given houses. We can not have a national project whereby people from the street are taking over the administration that was supposed to be done by the governor’s office or the councillor’s office. Who is now responsible for this mess?”

However, the project coordinator Raymond Peterson refuted the allegations, saying there is no discrepancies in the list – and that it was streamlined with the initial fire victims list, and were beneficiaries who were given ownership certificates last year.

“The additional houses were built for homeowners who were either at sea, truck drivers who were out of the country – and those locked down in other regions. Nobody was removed unfairly,” he explained.

He added the current problem is that people were living together or staying with a relative in shacks despite not being owners of those structures.

“If they were living with someone whose shack burnt down… only the owner received a house. The problem is people who were living in one shack want four houses, but we cannot allow that,” he said.

 

- edeklerk@nepc.com.na


2021-11-02  Eveline de Klerk

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