Works Ministry justifies “old, worn-out, dirty”govt houses

Steve Nashama

The Ministry of Works and Transport says a lack of adequate funding and the minimal budget it receives annually has contributed to the state that government houses and apartments find themselves in.

This was said by the ministry’s Public Relations Officer , Julius Ngwedha in the interview with the Windhoek Observer. Ngwedha added that it is thus difficult to renovate and ensure better basic maintenance of government houses.

The state of government houses are questionable and not in a good condition, especially the ones inherited from the colonial regime, and there is a need for the government to renovate them and provide better maintenance.

Tenants residing in government apartments in Windhoek’s Ausspanplatz are complaining that the government has neglected the buildings. A source who spoke on anonymity questioned why government is hesitant to sell them the houses as they can afford to renovate at their own cost.

In response, Ngwedha said the works ministry was allocated a budget but it was minimal for the ministry to maintain and provide good service to all government houses.

However, he indicated that the ministry has renovated some houses depending on the availability of resources.

He stressed that the challenge to this issue is the budget and resources. The ministry cannot do much to renovate all government houses and provide basic maintenance with a minimal budget and few resources.

He added that the ministry has been given an order by Cabinet to identify and sell some of these houses.

“We are currently busy identifying the houses, selecting them and sell them as directed by Cabinet,” he said.

He further said if a house is not selected then a tenant living in it cannot buy it. “The process of selling some of those houses is already there and it has been going on’” he added.

Ngwedha pointed out that it is not only the government alone, but the government also is the people, and people should not just wait for the government only, adding that sometimes people living in these houses do not use them in a reasonable and good manner.

“People living in these government houses should also do something to meet the government halfway,” he urged.

The Urban Development ministry’s public relations officer, Mbatjiavi Hardley says the ministry has nothing to do with such an issue.

“This ministry does not deal with government housing properties,” she said.

Meanwhile, The Ministry of works and transport is embroiled in a N$ 4 million by BV Investments 422 CC , after the Ministry reportedly left a property it rented in an “unacceptable” condition and thus needed to be restored to its to its original state.

The building, was however being occupied by police officers, after the works ministry leased it to the Ministry of safety, who are also cited as second defendants. BV Investments 422 CC says the police officers, being employed by the Ministry acted within the scope and cause of their employment when they occupied and left the building in a deplorable state.

The rental contract, according to the company was renewed for the seventh time in September 2017. The rental amount was N$ 305 741 per month. According to BV Investments 422 CC, the Ministry was obligated to keep the place clean and in a sanitary condition at its own cost to the satisfaction of BV Investments 422 CC.

They further say the agreement was that the ministry shall pay costs of utility service fees in connection with water and electricity consumption.

“The first defendant shall be responsible for the replacement of broken lights, toilet seats, doors, door handles, keys, Windows, tiles,and damages due to negligence.

Before handing over the building, the Ministry of safety reportedly hired police officers to renovate the building but it was renovated to a deplorable condition with numerous defects, the company claims in its lawsuit.

“The first defendant being the lessee and the second defendant being the occupant are in breach of their obligations in that they failed to hand over the keys despite terminating the lease agreement on the 30th of November 2019. They failed to return the premises to its original state, having been damaged,” the company argued.

The company claims amongst other things that the property’s motor gate and electrical outlets have been damaged and cause power failure when used, doors are without keys, windows are broken,ceilings are broken, wooden floors have been scuffed and stained and the gutters have not been cleaned. They further argue that the repainting of the building wasn’t properly done etc.

The company says as a result of the building not being in its original state, they are unable to lease it out to prospective tenants and have thus suffered damages in the amount of N$ 4 535 555.14.

Government Attorney Freddy Kadhila represents the two ministries while Slysken Makando represents the plaintiff. The minister of finance is also cited as a respondent because of any interest he may have in the matter. No relief is sought against him.

By Observer