OTJIWARONGO - The urban and rural development minister Erastus Uutoni encouraged local authority councillors to concentrate more on land delivery instead of fighting each other, as it hinders the progress of housing delivery.
Uutoni was speaking at Otjiwarongo on Friday during the official commissioning of Extension 13 in Orwetoveni location that is comprised of 312 mixed-use erven for construction of houses targeting low-income earners. The minister also officially handed over 70 constructed houses at Extension 12 in the same location.
He added that Extension 7 is at the advanced stage of servicing, which he said is good progress.
The minister urged local authorities to emulate the Otjiwarongo Municipality for focusing their attention and energies on addressing the causes of inequality at a time when the nation is faced with an acute housing shortage and other socio-economic disparities.
“Other local authorities are busy planning on how to overthrow each other instead of focusing on housing, which is one of the key national development priorities and an important vehicle for addressing poverty and inequality as well as bringing about social harmony, economic advancement and ensuring political stability,” he said.
“I was here in April and handed over 40 houses. Now I am back commissioning Extension 13 comprising of the 312 erven for low-income earners. On top of that, there are 70 houses completed that will be handed over soon. This is a massive achievement,” he applauded.
The minister said that he would compel local authorities to report the number of houses and erven they handed over to their residents for 2020/21. “I am now going to demand local authorities to compile all the statistics of the houses they completed in 2020 and 2021. I know urban areas across the country are characterised by their own set of complex issues such as the financial challenges, which are notably the same at all levels of economic development,” he said.
He added that local authorities must learn to deliver houses with a little budget so that when money becomes available, they will deliver more. Uutoni said this will contribute to the growth of towns and will be able to generate income through rates and taxes.
The land development of both Extensions 12 and 13 is a joint venture initiative between the municipality and Unistrat Property Investment, which started in the year 2015 and was approved by the ministry.
According to the minister, the project so far benefited the community by the creation of 114 direct jobs and many more through subcontractors.
Otjozondjupa governor James Uerikua, also commended the Otjiwarongo Municipality for the achievement, saying that the region attained 2 399 erven including the ones commissioned on Friday.
“We are in a serious course of formalising our informal settlements in the region and Otjiwarongo is leading and accelerating land delivery as they came up with a well programmed and defined planned approach by creating a reception area that paved way for development,” he said.
He urged residents who will be settled at the reception area to cooperate with the authorities to reach the target of housing delivery in the region. “With the leadership we have in Otjozondjupa, we can achieve our goal of housing delivery. I am urging our residents to ensure maximum coordination and cooperation with the leadership if they happen to be relocated at the reception area, as it is not their final destination,” he explained.
He also explained that local authorities must prioritise allocating land to the men and women in uniform through procedures.