NHE in Deception Claims

THE National Housing Enterprise is being castigated by the line ministry for providing unreliable statistics on the progress of the mass housing project while some beneficiaries are also complaining about the affordability of the houses.

NHE confidential reports seen by The Namibian show that the information given to the ministry of urban and rural development does not add up, resulting in the minister not believing the statistics.

The government is not only faced with a problem of unreliable statistics but also that some people who received houses under the project are crying foul over the affordability of the units.

Urban and rural development minister Sophia Shaningwa confirmed yesterday that she has received calls from beneficiaries in Erongo region and Oshakati, complaining that they cannot afford the houses they were allocated.

The government said last year the houses would be cheap to an extent that one category of the houses would cost N$620 per month.

“It is a good project but it needs to talk to the pockets of the people,” she said, adding that her ministry will re-look at the issue of pricing and area of construction to ensure that the houses are affordable.

The minister admitted that people were allocated the houses without signing contracts and that that her ministry has dispatched a team to look into the matter and that of NHE statistics. The process is expected to be finalised by next week.

NHE figures under question relate to the total planned houses, those under construction, completed houses and houses ready to be handed over to the buyers.

NHE was caught out a week after two board members and its chief executive Vinson Hailulu met Shaningwa on 8 April 2015. Hailulu gave Shaningwa a progress report after that meeting.

A few days later urban ministry permanent secretary Nghidinua Daniel asked NHE to submit a detailed report on the mass housing, so that Shaningwa can brief President Hage Geingob and Cabinet. Hailulu submitted another set of statistics to Nghidinua on 17 April 2015. That report differed from the one submitted nine days earlier.

NHE’s statistics in a report dated 8 April 2015 show that the total of planned houses was 9 489 but the number decreased to 9 479 in the second report.

This angered the line ministry, which is of the opinion that the number of houses to be constructed in the first phase of the project should not be changed without ministry permission.

Houses completed so far increased from 1 107 to 1 161 while houses currently under construction increased by 1 665 from 3 514 to 5 179.

The inconsistency is also shown in the houses to be handed over, from 745 in the first report to 476 in the second report.

The ministry asked the board members to explain the discrepancies. Documents show that Shaningwa does not trust the statistics submitted by the parastatal.

Meanwhile, the terms of office of the NHE board and chief executive Hailulu expire this year.

It is not clear whether the government will opt for continuity by rewarding Hailulu and the board new terms or appoint new leaders at NHE. Shaningwa said she will look at the issue so that the affected people are informed on time.

The term of the board under chairperson Jason Nandago will end in June, while Hailulu’s term ends in August. Nandago is said to be a Hailulu aocate. It was under Nandago’s watch that Hailulu undertook several questionable globe-trotting trips and was paid handsome bonuses.

NHE confirmed in 2013 that Hailulu was paid around N$250 000 in bonuses that year.

Hailulu, a former chief executive of the Windhoek municipality, was a kingpin in drafting the mass housing project which has been rocked by delays, crony-based tenders and lack of sufficient funding from government.

The CEO’s position is now rated as one of the most lucrative jobs of its kind in the country since it is in charge of NHE, which has the N$45 billion mass housing contract that runs until 2030.

Even though NHE has partly improved since Hailulu took over in 2005, executives at the parastatal are blaming the government for downplaying the issue of housing by under-funding NHE for 25 years, a scenario that has put the institution into financial stress to the extent that it has only constructed around 14 000 houses since independence.

The appointment of the board will be made minister Shaningwa with an endorsement from Cabinet. That board, with the approval of Shaningwa and Cabinet, will then decide whether to replace Hailulu or renew his contract for another five years.

Source : The Namibian