PEOPLE will face criminal charges if they heed the call of a youth activist to occupy houses, built for the Mass Housing Development Programme (MHDP) in Swakopmund, illegally.
The Executive Director of the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, Nghidinua Daniel, said in an official statement members of the public should reject the call for the illegal occupation of houses especially those that have not been completed yet.
“Doing so would be a criminal offence,” Daniel said in the statement.
The Commander of the Namibian Police in the Erongo Region, Commissioner Andreas Nelumbo, echoed the sentiments of the ministry’s Executive Director and said that once complaints are received people will be dealt with according to the law.
Daniel said that once the houses are completed the infrastructure will be handed over to beneficiaries based on existing waiting lists that has been compiled by the Swakopmund Municipality.
According to the statement the ministry has never abandoned the housing development in Swakopmund and trashed allegations that taxpayers’ resources has been wasted on the project.
Daniel said the aim of the MHDP is to upscale the provision of housing products for all the different categories of groups of the population through better coordinated planning and investment in the housing sector.
In this regard the Swakopmund municipality availed three sites for the construction of houses under the MHDP and three contarctors were appointed by the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) to carry out the work on the various sites. Once completed the project would have yielded 1 521 new houses. To date 1 016 have been compteded and handed over.
According to Daniel one of the contractor, Ferusa that was supposed to build 505 houses subcontracted the project to New Era Investment Pty (ltd) and Desert Paving and Construction.
“In the enforcement of the contract between Government and Ferusa it was discovered that construction work was not on schedule and the reason for this was due to a dispute over payments between Ferusa and its sub-contractors.”
According to Daniel The contractor was paid by Government but the onward payment of sub-contractors never occurred. The non-payment resulted in New Era Investments taking Ferusa to court and the stoppage of work on the entire Ferusa site.
Then subcontractor was granted a a judgement of lien over the construction site. A lien is the right to keep possession of property belonging to another party until a debt owed by that party s discharged or honoured.
According to Daniel Government through the Office of the Attorney General demanded that the Ferusa remedy the situation, failing which punitive action will be taken.
“In terms of the court judgement, work on site can only resume after or on conclusion that Ferusa first settled the money it owes the sub-contractor. Ferusa has unfortunately so far not been able to sort out its dispute with the sub-contractor.”
In this regard the ministry and the attorney general are now pursuing remedial action in order to hold Ferusa fully accountable, to have the work resumed and to get the project completed.
The ministry took stock of the number of houses that were not completed and determined the cost for repairs and completion, instituted legal action against Ferusa for breach of contract and related damages as well engaged the sub-contractor in negotiations to secure an arrangement that will allow the resumption of work and the completion of the project.
Daniel said the process is already in an advanced stage and added that all the remedial action taken will see that the project is completed in the shortest possible time.
In terms of Section 40(1) of Namibia’s Criminal Procedure Act 1977 (Act 51 of 1977), inciting people to commit any offense listed under Schedule 1 constitutes a serious crime. Section 40(1) (b) of the act reads: “A peace officer may without a warrant, arrest any person whom he reasonably suspects of having committed an offense referred to in Schedule 1.”