Walvis Bay’s Otweya housing project has not only seen new jobs being created, but community cohesion at play.
What started out as a hopeless situation following a devastating fire last year has turned into a model for community development, much to the delight of the authorities and beneficiaries.
Urban and rural development minister Erastus Uutoni visited the Otweya construction site in Walvis Bay this week to check on the progress of the construction of 121 houses for the Twaloloka fire victims.
Speaking during the site verification visit, which was led by Erongo governor Neville Andre and Walvis
Bay mayor Trevino Forbes, Uutoni applauded the housing project for the economic opportunity it has brought to local residents.
Henderina Hangura and Regina Katjizembua are
some of the women making ends meet by selling oshikundu, vetkoek and meat at the construction site.
Katjizembua is part of the 20 Twaloloka fire victims who were allocated houses in November last year.
“I sometimes serve oshikundu and vetkoek for free to the people working on the site. We cannot turn our backs on each other, just because I have a house, while others are still in tents,” she said, adding that they are all family brought together by what is now known as the Twaloloka fire.
“We sometimes take the wheelbarrows and other loose equipment to prevent them from being stolen during the night,” she told this reporter, adding that she, Hangura and other women serve cooked meals to workers from food donations they receive from Swapo’s office.
Uutoni sung the praises of the women who were presented to him by construction supervisors. “You have sacrificed yourself for this development, and for your people. This is the spirit of sacrifice that we want to see in Namibian people”, he observed.
Construction site manager Raymond Petersen said apart from the 172 employed Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia workers, an additional 200 Otweya beneficiaries have volunteered to assist the construction workers with bricklaying, being handymen or any form of labour required on site.
“In total, there are thus 372 people working,” he added.
The construction project came about after a fire raged through the Twaloloka informal settlement in July last year, reducing over 100 shacks to ashes and leaving hundreds homeless. The displaced residents, who were reported at the time to have escaped with only the clothes on their backs, have since been living in tents. The municipality of Walvis Bay then allocated the erven for the construction of the 121 brick houses. The housing units will be allocated to residents who were issued ownership certificates in November last year.
Andre said the handover of the houses will be done upon completion at a later stage.