Otjomuise mass houses ‘unfit for occupation’

WINDHOEK � Houses constructed under the government's mass housing development programme in Otjomuise's Extension 10 in Windhoek are not ready-fit for occupation yet due to bureaucratic delays.

Executive Director in the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development Nghidinua Daniel said the houses are not yet connected to the bulk services network, which include sewer, water and electricity network lines.

He said the government and other parties involved are doing everything possible to expedite the remaining process so that the project can reach its practical completion and for the houses to be ready for occupation in the shortest possible time.

As of October 2018, there were 308 informal settlements in Namibia, with a staggering 228 000 shacks accommodating about 995 000 people in urban areas.

According to Daniel, why the new Otjomuise houses were not yet connected to the bulk services network is because the finalisation of the design drawing of bulk services could not be approved because the proclamation of the township is still pending.

He said with outstanding approval of the bulk drawing, the actual installation or construction of the said services cannot commence and the houses cannot be connected to the to the bulk services.

The update on re-planning is that the revised town planning layout was approved in December 2018 and the general plans are currently before the Surveyor-General for consideration, he said in a media statement last week Thursday.

Daniel explained that with the approval of the Mass Housing Development Programme (MHDP) in 2013, local authorities were approached to avail land on which houses under the initiative could be built.

He said after a call for a proposal from developers by the National Housing Enterprise (NHE), the developers' proposal that was selected for the Otjomuise Ext 10 consisted of two parts.

The houses that were to be funded through the MHDP were to be built on a portion of the total block of the land or township, which already had bulk services and infrastructure development or installed on it by the Windhoek Municipality with funding from the central government under the Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (Tipeeg), Daniel said.

He explained that the development of infrastructure and the construction of houses on the remainder of the land were to be funded by a private developer.

Daniel said in terms of its approval or proclamation as a township, Otjomuise Ext 10 was planned for single residential development.

According to him, the selected housing development proposal however provided a mix of housing types and more housing units than the area or township was planned and the existing municipal services were designed for.

He said this necessitated a re-planning of the township in order to accommodate the large number of, or more, mixed housing units including high rise apartments, which have a 1:50 density, which is not yet part of the Windhoek Municipality Amendment Scheme for the area.

The executive director said the other implication of the densified development was that some of the existing bulk municipal services on the site needed to be re-aligned or altered to accommodate the proposed development and, in some cases, new services needed to be planned for and installed.

In order to avoid delays and given the pressing need for housing in Windhoek, provisional approval was given for the construction of housing to kick off, while the township re-planning and re-alignment of bulk services were also envisaged to run concurrently, he said.

Also, Daniel said the project implementation, as it was the case with other MHDP projects, was put on hold in June 2015, but work resumed in 2016 under a new contractual arrangement between the contractor and the government, represented by the ministry, with 362 commenced housing units still to be completed.

Practical completion was envisaged in December 2017, subject to the finalisation of the township re-planning and proclamation and re-alignment of or installation of additional bulk services, he said.

Former President Hifikepunye Pohamba in 2013 officially launched the ambitious National Mass Housing Development Programme that will have seen 185 000 houses built by 2030.

To date, 3 958 housing units have been completed and handed over to the needy in various local authorities since 2014, while a further 1 100 houses are at various stages of construction and completion.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia