Hundreds of vacant houses in Windhoek still not ready for occupation

Niël Terblanché

The Ministry of Urban and Rural Development reports that 362 dwelling units, part of the Mass Housing Development Programme located in Otjomuise, Extension 10, remain vacant and are not ready for occupation.

The revelation surfaced amidst growing pressure from local activists for the immediate allocation of these homes to the needy.

The project, initially slated for completion in December 2017, has been marred by delays due to a legal dispute between the construction contractor and the government, leading to a halt in progress.

Despite reaching reasonable stages of construction, these units lack essential services such as sewer, water, and electricity connections, rendering them unfit for habitation.

Executive Director Daniel Nghindinua explained that a court ruling in November 2023 has mandated the Ministry to submit a detailed variation order by May 2024.

He said that the order should outline the remaining works and associated costs to bring the project to completion.

The Ministry is now on the verge of procuring a multi-disciplinary team of engineers to design and oversee the installation of the necessary bulk services.

The delay has sparked frustration among potential occupants, notably after activist Michael Amushelelo called for public registration for these houses.

Meanwhile, the Ministry stressed its commitment to expedite the project to ensure the houses are ready for occupation as swiftly as possible.

In response to concerns about vandalism at the housing site, the Ministry acknowledged the issue, stating that the contractor has taken measures to secure the area. Despite these efforts, some houses have suffered damage, a situation the Ministry deems “regrettable” and “criminal.”

Beyond this project, the Ministry stressed its broader commitment to addressing housing needs across the country. Initiatives such as the Informal Settlement Upgrading Housing Project in Windhoek, jointly funded by various governmental bodies and agencies, illustrate ongoing efforts to provide decent and affordable housing.

These projects aim to cater specifically to the ultra-low- and low-income segments of the population, reflecting the government’s resolve to improve living conditions for all Namibians.

Nghindinua said that the situation in Otjomuise serves as a poignant reminder of the complexities involved in such large-scale projects.

He acknowledged that the urgency of the housing crisis calls for swift and effective action to fulfil the promise of decent housing for those in need.

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