Land Scarcity Prompted Reduction of Plot Sizes

The City of Windhoek has dismissed as untrue recent media reports claiming the Ministry of Regional, Local Government, Housing and Rural Development has requested them to reduce the minimum size of single plots in Windhoek from 300 square metres to 150 square metres. Clearing the air Manager of Corporate Communications, Joshua Amukugo, said at a press conference on Friday that the ministry never made such a request and that the Management Committee (MC) in fact made the submission to council, in line with Section 5.2.6 of the amended National Housing Policy of 2009, for the creation of erven smaller than 300 square metres. He said if the council had approved the proposal to reduce the sizes of erven it would have approached the line ministry for approval.

Amukugo was reacting to news reports that the municipality was apparently unhappy with the ministry’s request to reduce single plot sizes subsequent to a council meeting last Thursday. He added that the MC made the submission for the reduction of the sizes of erven in view of the scarcity of land and because the city would run out of developable land by the year 2017, if it continues to develop land in the current fashion.

If the city cannot provide plots that measure less than 300 square metres, it would need a minimum of 57 hectares per year to enable their development as opposed to 150 square metres, in which case only 29 hectares of land would be required per year. “Ideally, the City of Windhoek must undertake developments that deliver a range of erf sizes, which will also create a varied pattern of housing typologies,” he said. According to Amukugo the city cannot afford to overburden the urban poor with erven and services that they cannot afford. He said a N$80 million housing development project currently underway has the potential to accommodate about 1192 households on a 40-block residential plot that has been subdivided into 150 square metre individual plots, whereas the same plot would only have accommodated 596 households, if it was divided into 300 square metre units. He stressed that only about 10-15 percent of households, in the N$3000 income bracket could afford to acquire 300 square metre erven in the informal settlement upgrading projects. “To ensure that the majority of households can attain secure tenureship, the city thus develops block residential erven that can be acquired by groups, this then allows households to share the costs of acquiring land,” he said.

Rapid urbanization also needs to be addressed proactively, according to Amukugo, because the number of residents in the informal settlements of the capital is expected to reach a staggering 156 000 people by this year, up from 119 000 in 2011. He said by 2020 Windhoek will most likely have a population of 800 000 people. “The City has a waiting list of more than 8000 households and the delivery of only 300 square metres erven would mean that the people on that list will remain on that list for an indeterminate time as the provision of erven would be slowed down.”

On other municipal matters, Amukugo noted the slow registration and renewal of businesses licenses in Windhoek and revealed that of the 16840 businesses registered in the capital, only 5836 businesses were operating with valid fitness certificates. He reminded the business community that those operating in the Windhoek jurisdiction should by law register their business activities with the local authority. He also raised concerns over the vandalism of cemeteries, especially the Khomasdal cemetery where two graves were recently desecrated. “We would thus like to urge the public to refrain from vandalism and to respect the dead by letting them rest in peace, as we all humbly wish them to,” he urged.

Source : New Era