Make Houses More Affordable – Geingob

THERE is a need for reassessment on the criteria used to evaluate land and to investigate the building materials supply chain, President Hage Geingob says.

This was stated in his letter dated 24 April, addressed to the minister of urban and rural development Sophia Shaningwa which instructed her to ensure that housing became more affordable.

Geingob asked Shaningwa to review the approach of housing delivery to make it a matter of urgency.

He said she should also look at “how to dissuade speculative behaviour in the land and property market, by focusing strictly on first-time buyers and how we can promote the use of local materials as much as possible, as well as propagate the manufacturing of building materials in Namibia.”

Geingob pointed out that during his State of the Nation Address, he elaborated on the need to fast-track the delivery of affordable and quality houses for all Namibians.

“In particular, I called on the local authorities, especially those with capacity, to start playing a more constructive role in the provision of serviced land,” the President wrote.

He told Shaningwa to ensure that the cost of serviced land was significantly reduced by cutting out middlemen and directing municipalities to directly service land.

“Re-assess the criteria for land and property valuations to make it more precise, investigate the entire supply chain of building materials and costs. How to dissuade speculative behaviour in the land and property market, by focusing strictly on first-time buyers and how we can promote the use of local materials as much as possible, as well as propagate the manufacturing of building materials in Namibia.”

Geingob said given the urgency of this matter and the expected pace of progress, he wants Shaningwa to report back by or before the end of June 2015.

The President is pleased with Shaningwa’s “proactive role” in investigating “errant local authority councillors” who are suspected of abusing their positions. Shaningwa, however, refused to comment on the President’s directives. “I cannot confirm or deny receiving such a letter”.

The Namibian understands that the minister of land reform Utoni Nujoma was also instructed to come up with a solution in fast-tracking land reform in the country.

Nujoma, however, denied receiving such a letter, saying they are guided by the Cabinet road map.

Minister of environment and tourism Pohamba Shifeta also said he had not received extra instructions apart from the overview plan they were instructed to submit by end of May.

Meanwhile, minister of education Katrina Hanse-Himarwa said apart from the ministerial declaration of intent, she received terms of reference. She could, however, not reveal the contents as she is out of the country and directed The Namibian to her office for the document.

Last week City of Windhoek’s manager for corporate communications and customer care Joshua Amukugo announced that government has taken a slight twist in addressing the land shortage.

He said the ministry of urban and rural development as well as the ministry of finance have been identified to facilitate practical solutions.

“It is pertinent to note that our central government has been keeping an eagle’s eye on the predicament, and appropriate ministries have been tasked to join hands with local authorities throughout the country and facilitate the introduction of practical, affordable and flexible land tenure systems,” he said.

Amukugo said local authorities do not have money, and Windhoek needs government’s assistance because it is the only city receiving so many people per day. He said the municipality was not ready for such a huge influx.

Questioned on what the city does with money they collect from selling properties, Amukugo said: “We used to get chunks from auctions, but we were instructed not to use the money until further notice,” adding that the situation is not cost effective anymore without auctions.

Minister of finance Calle Schlettwein confirmed that consultations are underway on how best this problem can be solved.

Schlettwein said looking at the allocation of funds supplied to local authorities countrywide, his ministry is providing aice on how best the money can be spent.

“There are many ways in how to service land. We are looking at how we can do more with what we have. We have realised it is a problem, so we need to know how to solve it,” he said last week.

His deputy Natangwe Ithete could not deny or confirm whether the meeting took place.

“This (land issue) is everyday talk. I cannot confirm or deny. I do not see any day different from any other day when it comes to the issue of land discussions,” Ithete said.

Source : The Namibian