Albertina Nakale and Edgar Brandt
WINDHOEK - Many houses constructed under the government’s mass housing development programme have serious defects and, as a result, remain unoccupied to date.
An astronomical N$45 billion was budgeted to build 185,000 houses by 2030 but the project has been wobbled by lack of funds to pay contractors and complete thousands of houses.
Some of the completed houses have defective sewer connections, while others are constructed in unplanned township or inhabitable sites, according to Urban and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Daniel Nghidinua.
Nghidinua, in an interview with New Era this week, said a total of 1,088 houses still needs to be completed and consequently handed over to the beneficiaries.
He said 2,892 houses have thus far been handed over to beneficiaries countrywide.
He noted the programme has never been stopped and there are still houses under construction.
He singled out some of the projects that are still under implementation in Opuwo, Otjomuise Extension 10, Katima Mulilo, Swakopmund and Keetmanshoop.
For Windhoek’s Otjomuise Extension 10, Nghidinua revealed the construction of 362 houses has been completed, but the houses are not yet habitable due to certain outstanding critical requirements. These, he says, include the site or township on which the houses have been constructed having not been planned.
“In other words, the town planning of the area is still being worked out and the bulk services to which the houses are to be connected are also being sorted,” Nghidinua said.
For Katima Mulilo, he said 185 of the total 202 houses on the site are practically completed and occupied. However, he explained that the remaining 17 houses are also completed but have defective sewer connections. He added that the government is in the process of sorting out this problem before the houses can be occupied.
In Opuwo, he said, due to non-performance or failure by the first appointed contractor to fulfil contractual obligations, a new contractor is in the process of being appointed to take over and complete the remaining 24 commenced-but-not-completed houses. Nevertheless, he said, 29 out of 53 houses have already been completed.
Regarding the mass housing programme in Keetmanshoop, he said out of the total 287 houses, 199 houses has been completed and allocated to beneficiaries.
The remaining 88 commenced-but-not completed houses are under construction and are due for completion in February 2019.
In Swakopmund, he said, there are two sites where houses under the mass housing programme are being constructed.
He said that one of the sites consists of a total of 505 uncompleted houses.
He revealed the project is on halt due a legal dispute between the appointed contractor, Ferusa Capital, and its sub-contractor.
These houses under construction, he says, will soon be completed once the ministry has sorted the technical challenges faced by the parties involved in the project.
He said the second site consists of 133 commenced-but-not-completed houses.
“Due to non-performance by the first appointed contractor, a new contractor has been appointed to complete the 133 commenced-but-not-completed houses on this site,” he said.
New Era earlier reported that the government is set to spend an extra N$6.3 million to repair and complete the vandalised mass houses at Keetmanshoop.
The vandalism has been happening ever since the programme was put on hold in July 2015.
This acts of vandalism left the houses with broken windows and doors, while kitchen cupboards and burglar bars were removed, and some solar geysers stolen from the rooftops, and as if this was not enough, some of the houses were filled with human faeces as residents close to the houses used them as toilets.
Nghidinua said the government through the local authorities where the houses have been built, has enlisted the services of security companies to guard the houses that have been completed but are still in the process of being handed over to beneficiaries by the National Housing Enterprise (NHE). Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Peya Mushelenga, said houses constructed under the mass housing programme are too expensive for ordinary citizens to own.
Speaking at yesterday’s announcement of the new Board of Directors for the NHE, Mushelenga confirmed that the government is considering subsidising the cost of the houses to improve their affordability.
However, he noted that affordability was only one aspect of the project, as another crucial component was the availability of serviced land. “We will follow up with municipalities to make land available to NHE and other developers to service the land,” said Mushelenga.