20 low-cost houses for fire victims

08 October 2020 | Infrastructure

LEANDREA LOUW

WALVIS BAY



Two months after a fire swept through the Otweya informal settlement in Walvis Bay, destroying homes, leaving hundreds homeless and killing a two-year-old boy, a groundbreaking ceremony for low-cost housing for 20 affected families took place recently.

The initiative is driven by Standard Bank Namibia, with the beneficiaries being members of the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN).

The construction of the 20 houses is the first phase in many more homes for Otweya residents.

Speaking at the event, Standard Bank Namibia regional manager Ronny Einbeck said the bank, under its Buy-a-Brick Initiative, launched the Footprint Socks campaign to sell specially designed socks to raise funds for the construction of the houses.

“We are restarting the journey to realise the dreams of the families of Otweya for shelter, for restoring dignity and creating hope for a better tomorrow. It is our humble commitment to ensure that we continue the fight to provide decent shelter to our people,” he said.



'Trust your government'

Deputy minister of urban and rural development, Derek Klazen, said after the fire, there was an option to move the residents into one-room structures without a toilet or shower.

“We thought this structure will help after the fire. However, government felt that although it is a good structure, we cannot take people out of a shack and place them in a structure with no ablution facilities. Our people have dignity, and we need to take them to a proper place, which they can call their home.”

“I apologise that you are still in tents, but very soon you will be placed in proper homes. Currently, the municipality, with support of government, is servicing land at Extension 8. All fire victims currently living in tents will be relocated to Extension 8,” he said.

The residents will receive certificates of occupation as a promise that they will be relocated once the land is ready, Klazen said.

“The process will be done step by step; not everyone will move at once. All I am asking is to be patient and trust your government.”

Naftali Uutoni, the SDFN facilitator for Walvis Bay and the Erongo Region, said the group has about 7 900 members, of which more than 6 000 are from Walvis Bay alone.

“There are 32 SDFN members whose shacks burnt down, but only 20 will benefit from these houses.”

Beneficiaries of the houses said they are happy with the development, even though it stemmed from tragedy.

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