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Former NHE boss slams mass housing planning

2014-12-11  Mathias Haufiku

Former NHE boss slams mass housing planning
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By Mathias Haufiku WINDHOEK – A former National Housing Enterprise CEO and strategic expert says the countless problems plaguing the national mass housing programme is nothing but the results of inadequate planning and a lesson that political decisions should not be imposed on parastatals. Mike Kavekotora, the man who was at the helm of the NHE from 2000 to 2005 before he was replaced by the NHE’s incumbent CEO Vinson Hailulu, is worried that construction companies contracted to build the houses under the first phase are benefitting more than housing-starved Namibians by pocketing millions of dollars and advised government rather to rope in private consortiums of engineers and financiers to work together with construction companies on the project. Kavekotora said this during an interview with New Era on Tuesday, where he spoke of the cost of political decisions being imposed on state companies and the appropriate way forward for the N$45 billion project that is envisaged to deliver 185 000 to homeless Namibians by 2030. “I call it ‘mess housing’ because this is a political project that was implemented on a political basis rather than economic basis,” Kavekotora said. “During my tenure there was not even a single talk about government’s plans to launch a mass housing project, which just shows this is a rushed political job that did not provide the technocrats with sufficient time to conduct studies to determine the viability of the project.” Hailulu earlier this year admitted during a press conference that implementation of the programme was done hastily, adding that NHE had less than a month to come up with a blueprint for the programme, a process which in normal circumstances, according to the NHE boss, would require more than six months. “We are not shifting blame to the ministry [of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development], all I am saying is that some of the preparations could have been done better if we had more time. But nonetheless, we are going on with the work,” Hailulu said at the time. To remedy the situation, like many other housing experts Kavekotora advised government to strip NHE of the programme and identify implementing agents from the private sector. “This programme can work well if we place it in the hands of a consortium of implementing agents such as engineers, financiers and construction companies and provide them with a well-defined project definition and timeframe. We need to take the mass housing programme out of the political arena and place it in the hands of those who have the technical capacity,” said Kavekotora. Kavekotora also accused NHE of having a hand in the project’s slow performance, saying he knows very well that it does not have the capacity to effectively implement the project, yet they went ahead and took a gamble. “NHE knows they do not have the capacity for this project and they were not part of the planning process therefore they were always bound to struggle. The outcome is indicative of that,” said the technocrat-turned-politician who will be one of the three members representing the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) in the National Assembly from next year. Claiming that government’s decision not to renew his position was a political one, Kavekotora said NHE, as the implementing agent, should advise politicians accordingly as to how exactly the programme should be structured in terms of planning, project management, costing and an implementation strategy. “How can you have a national project whereby contractors are paid different rates, land being bought at commercial rates, which shows that the groundwork was not done properly because land was at least supposed to be purchased at below market rates so that more money can be channelled to building the house instead of spending a lot of money on acquiring land,” he said. President Pohamba last week handed over houses constructed under the mass housing development programme in Oshakati.
2014-12-11  Mathias Haufiku

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