WALVIS BAY – Over a year since a devastating fire wreaked havoc at Walvis Bay, displacing hundreds of residents, the erstwhile victims finally have a place that they can call home.
The beneficiaries could not hide their joy on Friday when President Hage Geingob presented them with their one-bedroom houses at Walvis Bay’s Otweya settlement.
At least 153 families lost their shacks on 20 July last year in a devastating fire that not only destroyed their homes and belongings, but also killed a one-year-old boy at the then Twaloloka informal settlement at the town. As a result, these families have been living in tents next to the main road, while government came to their rescue and provided funds to build them decent houses.
“This is a dream come true. The long nights of sleeping in tents and guarding our properties are finally over. I have a house,” said Simon Nambinga shortly after the official handover of 121 houses was done by the President. Petrus Amutakula, who also received a house, said he was really happy that government could help secure new homes for them.
“I don’t need to worry about fire or living in a shack again. That life was hard, but I am thankful that government and the municipality of Walvis Bay came to our rescue,” he beamed. Both beneficiaries will move in with their families. Geingob thanked the local leadership for making the project a reality.
“The nation was shaken when we learned of the terrible and devastating fire outbreak at the Twaloloka informal settlement, which resulted in the loss of assets and possessions of 177 residents. Sadly during this fire, 18-month-old baby Fillipus Mandha lost his life. May his soul rest in peace. Today, out of the ashes of those shattered dreams, hope is rising like a phoenix,” the President said.
According to Geingob, government provided N$43 million for the construction of the houses, while Standard Bank also came on board to build 21 houses earlier this year. A further 21 houses are currently being constructed for those who were omitted from the initial list of fire victims. “I am, therefore, pleased that after this tragic incident, we can meet today to partake in the handing-over of these houses to the Otweya fire victims, cementing our commitment to address the issue of the decongestion of informal settlements, to provide housing to the masses, and to improve the livelihoods of our people. We will continue with this strategy, and call on all local authorities to support this initiative by providing land where possible,” he appealed.
The head of state added that government has always been for the development of Namibia and its people as articulated in Vision 2030, the National Development Plans and the Harambee Prosperity Plans I and II.
“Our goal is to ensure that all Namibians have access to the basic necessities for a dignified life such as food, shelter, clothing, sanitation, education and healthcare. The welfare of our people in the informal settlements has been given priority and to this end, we will not rest, we will not relent and we will leave no stone unturned until we can provide shelter to all. Today is just another step forward in this noble objective,” he continued.
Meanwhile, Geingob appealed to the Walvis Bay municipality to consider naming a street in honour of fire victim