THE local authority of Walvis Bay is finding it hard to make good on promises made by the central government with regards to the relocation of the victims of the disastrous fire that destroyed a large part of the Twaloloka informal settlement.
Their task has been made more difficult by other residents of informal housing claiming that the people of Twaloloka have been given plots of land to build their own houses while they have been on relocation and housing lists for years.
Hundreds of residents of the former Twaloloka have been living in tents since the end of July 2020 waiting to be relocated.
A special delegation of Cabinet tasked to assess the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic in Walvis Bay and other coastal towns during the first weeks of August 2020promised the people living in tents that they would be moved to permanent houses by the end of October.
Members of the Walvis Bay Town Council solemnly undertook to make good on the central government’s promises.
In the meantime, a new town council has been appointed and three senior managers directly involved in the development of Walvis Bay have been suspended.
The new council suspended the Chief Executive Officer, Muronga Haingura, the general manager of community and economic development, Agosthino Victor, the manager of housing and properties Jack Manele, and a properties clerk, Constance Summers after some irregularities with regards to N$24 million that has gone missing from the local authority’s coffers.
Mayor Trevino Forbes recently gave some perspective to the matter when he said that the fire disaster last year was exacerbated by another fire incident earlier this year when most of the remaining shacks in the Twaloloka settlement burned down as well.
“Instead of relocating more people to the tents we allowed the affected persons to rebuild their shacks on the same site with strict orders to leave some space between the houses they were going to build,” he said.
According to Forbes, confusion started when other people were convinced that the land to rebuild the shacks was allocated to the residents.
He said the opposite is true and that no plots were marked out for people to rebuild their shacks. He pointed out that people were simply asked to leave enough space between the new structures to allow fire trucks and other emergency services to react effectively to emergencies.
With regards to the decongestion and relocation of people still living in the tents almost nine months after the original fire disaster, he said that the old lists of people that are waiting for housing will be consolidated with a new one in order to speed up the process.
Forbes pointed out that there are some houses that have been completed under previous schemes that have not been sold or allocated to beneficiaries.
He said that the suspension of the three senior managers at the local authority has complicated matters, but that decision will be made as soon as some of the issues have been resolved.
There are a number of houses standing empty in Walvis Bay and Forbes said that they are looking into who they belong to or were allocated to.
The Mayor said that all residents of Walvis Bay will at some stage be relocated to decent houses but he said that the process will take time and that people will have to be prepared to pay for housing and services.