RUNDU – Urban and rural development minister Erastus Uutoni has urged the Rundu local authority councillors to ensure they provide land for housing at the town. The minister was disappointed the councillors are still scratching their heads due to lack of serviced land to give to low income earners through a build together project.
“Mayor, remember, we met at a stakeholders’ meeting in Windhoek in May and the purpose for that meeting was to discuss the housing issues. Other towns are moving very fast. Now, when you see me in other towns, you start to feel jealous that why is the minister in that town,” Uutoni said, in a meeting at the Rundu Town Council last week.
“But it is simply because people there are organised. Our mission is to ensure that we build houses for our community. I was in Okahao, and those people have organised themselves to build houses through a Build Together programme – and this is what we were discussing in the stakeholders meeting in May.” The ministry’s Build Together initiative is facilitated countrywide by local authorities who are also supposed to allocate plots. “I wanted to bring in the financiers and you tell them that you have land available – serviced and un-serviced – but if I’m correct, you stood up in the meeting we had in May and have indicated that you have plots,” he said.
“And up to now, I did not receive any indication that you are ready to hand over this plots to your low income groups through a build together program, a program that we think is easy for a majority of our community, as they can get revolving loans up to N$80 000.”
Uutoni told the council he wants to see plots given and the Build Together program activated in Rundu – just like in other towns. “I want to come back here – not to sit around the table but to visit the site where our community will be rejoicing that they have received land to build their houses, and I hope I will be promised today; the municipal council is in your hands, and I could see there’s a lot of money here. This year, I want to see a big housing event,” he noted.
Rundu mayor Gabriel Kanyanga informed the minister they have only a portion of unserviced land but there is no unallocated serviced land to allocate to low-income earners to kick-start the Build Together project at the town. “But the council plans to reposses the unpaid plots if the developers to whom the plots have been allocated are not developing them,” Kanyanga said.
Uutoni was also at the town due to a sewer issue affecting Rainbow village residents. The sewer has for the past weeks being flooding homes due to a failed sewer pump station at the suburb. The village was developed by Chinese businesswoman Stina Wu’s firm Helmsman Group. “The issue of the sewer at Rainbow village – I was so disturbed when I saw it on TV. You could see sewer water flowing all over the house and sewer water is flooding throughout and there’s no space where the family could even walk in the yard,” he said.
Since the completion of Rainbow village houses in 2014, the suburb and its facilities were never handed over to council, as council had refused due to some defects that council wants sorted ou; thus, council does not do maintenance on the facility where the pump station constantly floods residents.
Council also claims there are no layout plans submitted to them for the project. “That should be something that needs to be dealt with. We cannot allow a situation of that nature because it is going to bring diseases to our community, and it is not good,” Uutoni stressed. According to the mayor, council have identified key issues that have to be rectified before the developer can hand over the facility. The minister proposed that the council should consult with engineers with knowledge of the sewer system setup before the sewer pump station at Rainbow village is officially handed over to them.
“Otherwise, you will sign, and they will hand over and disappear – and leave you with a big problem. CEO, make sure that what is handed over to you is 100% satisfactory; otherwise, it will be a serious challenge, and you will inherit a problem that you will not be able to manage,” the minister said.
The developer blamed the defects on subcontractors whom they employed. “But we are working with the council to see how we are going to resolve this issue once and for all because we can’t have our people living with this issue,” said Chris Shivolo who represented the developer.
“The Town Council has never maintained this system since day one; we have always been doing it, and we also pay the electricity bill every month to Nored. How can they claim not to have the drawings when they are custodians of these and even the only authority tasked with the approval of building plans? They have for many years dodged our numerous requests to hand over the infrastructure; yet, they are the ones who receive all the payments from the residents for all these years,” fumed Shivolo.