Hanganeni Won’t Change Unam Hostel Fees

Hanganeni Emona Investments, the company that constructed the first private student accommodation at the University of Namibia (Unam) for N$80 million, has dismissed any possibility of changing its rental fees, despite having about 600 unoccupied rooms.

The company is owned by, among others, Dr Ndeutala Angolo-Amutenya, who was vice-chairperson of the Unam Council at the time of clinching the lucrative accommodation deal.

Other people linked to Hanganeni are National Planning Commission Permanent Secretary, Leevi Hungamo, Law Reform and Development Commission Chairman, Sacky Shanghala, and James Hatuikulipi of Investec Asset Management.

It was reported at the time that the new Unam hostels would generate about N$200 million in 20 years.

However, a New Era investigation revealed that currently only 500 beds, of the 1 150 rooms available rooms remain vacant.

Students are charged between N$2 100 and N$2 300 per month for rent.

Hanganeni Chief Executive Officer, Braam Vermeulen, yesterday said the company would not change its fees.

“We have expenses to cover. We can’t physically change the prices. We can’t negotiate. And we explained extensively to Unam SRC why we can’t change the prices,” he said.

According to him, the non-occupation of rooms is not due to high rental fees but because construction was completed after many students had already acquired accommodation elsewhere.

“Construction was completed mid-April and by that time students had already made other arrangements.”

He also said part of the contract states that if the rooms are not filled by Unam students, students from other institutions may be accommodated.

The luxury and privately run hostel, called Emona, offers a TV lounge and relaxation areas, communal bathrooms and kitchens fitted with granite counter tops.

The Unam Student Representative Council (SRC) has been lobbying for a while for Hanganeni to reduce hostel fees but to no avail.

“Unfortunately Emona is not an option for many students. From us as a student body, our contention remains firm – unless those prices are reduced they won’t be able to fill those vacant beds,” SRC vice-president Vincent Shimutwikeni said.

It is alleged that some Unam students, especially foreigners, have been forced into prostitution to make ends meet.

The situation is apparently fuelled by the struggle to survive – and compounded by exorbitant rental fees in and around Windhoek.

Shimutwikeni said: “This situation leads to a situation where girls start to reside with sugar daddies or boyfriends who fund them.”

“It is tough and one needs to survive. They start looking for means to survive because there are no funds for accommodation.”

“Some of them also end up in relationships with taxi drivers for means of transport.”

The accommodation situation is particularly dire among students who live in Windhoek’s informal settlements.

“For example those residing far away end up sleeping in the 24-hour study centre on campus during exams because they live on the outskirts of Windhoek.”

Source : New Era