MORE than a thousand houses were built under the Mass Housing Development Programme before bulk services were installed and other bureaucratic issues that were not resolved before construction commenced means all these abodes have been standing empty and unoccupied for years.
Nghidinua Daniel, the Executive Director of the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development issued a statement and in it said Government and other parties involved are doing everything possible to expedite the remaining processes so that the project can reach practical completion and for the houses to be ready for occupation in the shortest possible time.
The statement reads as follows:
In its resolve and continuous efforts to enhance the provision of access to serviced land and housing to Namibians, the Cabinet in 2013 approved the adoption and implementation of the Mass Housing Development Programme (MHDP) as the umbrella programme to bring together all initiatives by various role players on housing in Namibia. The aim was to scale up the provision of housing products for different categories of groups of the Namibian population through better coordinated planning and investment in housing.
The blueprint of the programme consisted of land use planning, design and infrastructure development. Credit linked housing development for middle to upper market housing, Social subsidy housing for the poor and lower income groups through the Build Together Programme and Informal settlement upgrading for the poor and low income brackets. People’s processes or community based housing development initiatives for the poor and low income groups, community led housing initiatives such as the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia and others. Rural housing and sanitation including legislative, regulatory and policy environment reform and capacity building.
The blueprint recognises the importance of and provides for an inclusive approach and a mix of financing modules for resourcing the seven sub-programmes. The financing modules were identified and grants or subsidy funding under the budget of the National Development Budget from Central Government was done to regional and local authorities as well as supporting community housing savings and development initiatives, viable public-private partnerships (PPPs) and debt financing.
Following the approval of the blue print the programme implementation was kicked off in 2013 with the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) as the implementing agent and with State funding targeted for the construction of the social housing for the ultra low and lower income groups in Namibia.
To date some 3958 housing units have been completed and handed over to the needy in the various local authorities and regions since 2014 while a further 1100 housing units have been commenced but not completed and are currently in various stages of construction or completion.
In response to shortcomings or gaps that have been identified during the course of the programme implementation the Government assumed responsibility over the programme implementation in 2015 and also commissioned the Namibia University of Science and Technology to carry out a review of the blueprint and programme implementation and to develop an strategy based on the proposed revised programme model.
In Windhoek, the local authorities were approached for available land and the Municipality made available Otjimuise Extension 10 Township for this purpose in 2013. Follow proposals from developers by the NGHE the development proposal that was selected for this specific site consists of two parts. The houses were to be funded through the MHDP and were to be built on a portion (Phase 1A) of the total block of land or township which already had bulk services and infrastructure developed or installed on it by the Windhoek Municipality with funding from Central Government under the Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (TIPEEG). The development of infrastructure and the construction of houses on the remainder of the land were to be funded solely by a private developer.
In terms of the approval and proclamation as a township, Otjimuise Extension 10, was planned for single residential development. The selected housing development proposal however provided for a mix of housing types such as single residential units and high rise apartments including more housing units (densification) than the area or township was planned and the existing municipal services were designed for. Due to this it necessitated a re-planning of the township in order to accommodate the large number of more and mixed housing units including high rise apartments which were not yet part of the Windhoek Municipality Amendment Scheme for the area.
The other implication of the densified development was that some of the existing bulk municipal services on site needed to be realigned 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, provision approval was given for the construction of housing kick off, while the township replanning and realignment of bulk services were also to run concurrently.
The implementation, as was the case with other MDHP projects was put on hold in June 2015 and work resumed in 2016 under a new contractual agreement between the contractor and the government represented by MURD with 362 commenced but not completed housing units to be completed. Practical completion was envisaged in December 2017 subject to finalisation of township replanning and proclamation and realignment of or alterations to existing bulk municipal services infrastructure which also may entail the installation of additional bulk services.
Under the new agreement the houses were commenced but not completed and reached a stage of structural completion but cannot reach practical completion and ready for occupation stages due to the bulk services (sewer, water and electricity network lines) were lagging behind due to the following reasons:
• The new Otjomuise Extension 10 needed to be de-proclaimed in order for the township to be proclaimed according to envisaged densified development;
• The finalisation of the design drawings of bulk services could not be approved because the proclamation of the townships was and is still pending
• With outstanding approval of the bulk service drawings, the actual installation or construction of the services cannot commence and the houses cannot be connected to the main sewer, water and electricity lines. Without the services connection, the houses are not ready and fit for occupation.
In light of the above, the houses in question are not yet connected to b bulk services networks and are thus not ready and fit for occupation. Accordingly insinuations or allegations that they are ready for occupation and the Government is seemingly keeping them unoccupied are not correct.
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 and approval.
It is acknowledged that there have been many challenges in the implementation of this project which the parties involved continue to work hard to address. They also state and acknowledge that under normal circumstances bulk services installation precedes the construction of houses. The Ministry has provided a detailed explanation of what caused this gap or misalignment in respect of this project.
The Government and other parties involved are doing everything possible to expedite the remaining processes so that the project can reach practical completion and for the houses to be ready for occupation in the shortest possible time.