To Use or Not to Use Private Property Developers

The Windhoek Municipality says town councils cannot refrain from the use of private property developers to service erven, and suggested that government instead put in place regulatory measures on the price of land.

The statement comes days after the Swakopmund Town Council Management Committee proposed the adoption of a total moratorium on the development of large tracts of land by private developers at the coastal town.

The Windhoek Municipality Chief Executive Officer, Niilo Taapopi, told New Era it would be suicidal to sideline private property developers and instead called on government to play a more active role when it comes to controlling land prices.

“Private developers must be guided and conditions be put in place to regulate land prices. Government must intervene and come up with a workable formula to control land prices. We cannot exclude private developers because everybody cannot be employed by government,” he said. Housing experts have in the past indicated that the involvement of private developers in the servicing of erven is the main cause of artificial land prices. Private developers buy land at cheap prices and then resell it at an aomical price after servicing it.

Taapopi however cautioned: “We cannot block [the rich], they are contributing to the development of the city because when we sell land at a high price to them we use that revenue to subsidize the poor.” The land belongs to the state, therefore government must play a role to balance the industry by coming up with a workable formula, said Taapopi.

As for the artificial and unregulated rent prices charged by landlords in Windhoek, Taapopi said the mixed economy system practised in Namibia makes it difficult to control rentals.

“It is a pity that we have a mixed economy which promotes competition and capitalism, but that is the name of the game. As I said, government must intervene,” he said, adding: “We are working on ways to control rent prices but we need to work together with other local authorities.”

Source : New Era