Relocated DRC Residents Threaten to Protest

RESIDENTS of the DRC informal settlement in Swakopmund have threatened to stage a mass protest and even boycott the Swakopmund constituency by-election at the end of May if the municipality does not guarantee them property and rectify an alleged breach of an agreement related to their relocation to make way for the servicing of land.

Residents who were relocated near the Swakopmund airport to make way for municipal services to be installed for the mass housing project, say they have been deceived by their municipal leaders and now have to live in worse squalor than before they were relocated.

According to the agreement between the relocated residents and the municipality, the residents would be relocated to temporary allotments and they would be given first option to either return to their original erf or be given an alternative erf. It further stated that they would be assisted by Power Oyeno (who is one of the large mass housing contractors) with temporary building materials, transport and labour during the relocation.

The residents were also promised water taps and refuse removal.

“They broke our shacks down and told us to move while making all these promises. They just dropped us with nails. Nothing to build with. They said they will service the area where our shacks stood and would build houses there but we cannot afford the houses, so we end up staying in another informal settlement after living in the DRC for more than 10 years,” one resident complained. DRC residents have come a long way, calling for the formalisation of the settlement, hoping to get an erf or a house they can finally call home but the only alternative for them is the low-cost houses built under the mass housing scheme. Ironically, most low-income earners cannot afford these houses. This is exactly what they had feared from the start.

“Most houses have been completed. If they were meant for DRC residents, why are the people not moving into the houses?” asked DRC Residents Association chairman David Nghiimbwasha.

He asked how long the people will have to live on the relocated site and when will they return to their original erf or be given another erf?

“The construction of houses in the DRC must stop with immediate effect until the government comes back with a positive response to the DRC residents. Failure to do so means that the DRC people will organise a demonstration until our complaint is heard. If government does not want to respond to the plight of the DRC residents, we are going to sue it for neglecting the DRC low-income group for 15 years,” threatened Nghiimbwasha.

As far as Paulo Shipoke of Power Onyeno is concerned, his company has been assisting with transport of some material and that it is an ongoing process.

“We are making way for services and construction. How long this will take or when the people will be able to move back is a council matter. Ask them,” he said.

According to him about half of the 2 334 houses set for construction have been completed.

Swakopmund mayor Juuso Kambueshe did not answer when phoned for comment.

Source : The Namibian