South Angry Over Mass Housing

VILLAGE councils in Hardap and Karas regions are angry that rural areas were excluded from the government’s N$45 billion mass housing development programme aimed at addressing the housing shortage and backlog countrywide.

The Namibian understands that the councils are planning to petition government to be included in the first phase of the mass housing programme.

Phase one, which will run for a period of two years, will primarily target the 14 regional capital centres, said President Hifikepunye Pohamba when he launched the mass housing programme in Windhoek on 26 November 2013.

During this period, Pohamba revealed that at least 8 800 housing units will be built and 10 200 plots serviced at an estimated cost of N$2,7 billion.

Pohamba then also emphasised that the housing backlog does not only exist in urban areas, but it also affected rural areas.

The spokesperson of the village councils, Brian !Goaseb, yesterday confirmed that the village councils plan to petition government to express their displeasure about the exclusion of rural areas from the mass housing programme.

!Goaseb revealed that the village councils are expected to meet in Keetmanshoop on 29 September to “discuss the petition and the way forward”.

!Goaseb said the village councils felt their exclusion from the mass housing programme will “worsen” the shortage of affordable housing in rural areas, adding that council decided to petition government as their communities are pressing them to deliver affordable housing.

“We want to petition government to reinstate the Build Together Housing Programme (BTHP) for the village councils or to include them in the mass housing (programme). Two years are too long for people in the rural areas to wait before their housing needs would be addressed” said !Goaseb.

He said the dreams of many rural people to own a home were shattered when government absorbed BTHP into the mass housing programme.

A snap survey made available by !Goaseb showed that people at Berseba (26), Kalkrand (31), Tses (20), Maltahoumlhe (138) had their BTHP loans approved just before government absorbed BTHP into the mass housing programme, while 45 houses remain half-built at Kalkrand.

He added that 198 families were on the waiting list for houses at Berseba, Kalkrand and Tses. In a letter dated 12 September to the Tses Council, of which The Namibian has seen a copy, the Ministry of Regional and Local Government and Housing and Rural Development informed the council that it had decided to complete all BTHP structures across the country to avoid “vandalism”.

The ministry’s letter came in response to a recent request by the council to release loan payments that were approved under the BTHP, while the mass housing is ongoing.

The Build Together Programme was a programme initiated during the 199293 financial year to provide shelter to low and ultra-low income earners in the country.

The project was decentralised to the regional councils and local authorities in the 199899 financial year.

It provided home loans to people whose monthly income was less than N$3 000 and also assisted middle-income earners who did not have access to credit from financial institutions or who were regarded as a credit risk.

The maximum loan amount was N$40 000, and the interest rate varied from 4-7% over 20 years.

Critics opined that many of the low income earners would not be able to afford the houses built under the massing housing programme.

Source : The Namibian