Geingob hands over incomplete Otweya houses

13 September 2021 | Local News

JEMIMA BEUKES



WINDHOEK

President Hage Geingob last Friday handed over 121 houses at the Otweya informal settlement in Walvis Bay amidst residents’ concerns over the lack of water, sanitation and power supply in the homes.

The residents have also accused Erongo regional governor Neville Andre of refusing to listen to their complaints and concerns and repeatedly referring them to the municipality, despite the project being spearheaded by his office.

Geingob, at the handing-over ceremony, thanked Andre for his “excellent coordination of the project”.

“The welfare of our people in the informal settlements has been given priority and to this end, we will not rest, we will not relent and we will leave no stone unturned until we can provide shelter to all. Today is another step forward in this noble objective,” the president said.

Meanwhile, Walvis Bay Rural constituency councillor Florian Tegako Donatus, who is also the chair of the disaster risk management committee, said Andre knew that the houses were incomplete, but insisted on handing them over.

“I also have a lot of questions. Will the people now carry their firewood, gasoline and candles - that may even be suspected of starting the fire at Twaloloka - to these new houses? What if these houses burn again? Whose responsibility will it be when someone is burned at these new houses?” he asked.

Donatus said he was surprised to learn that the handover would go ahead last week despite a prior agreement with the governor’s office to delay the process in order to address outstanding issues.

‘We are suffering’

“Not a single one of those houses have electricity. Four of them were given electricity just for decoration, maybe for the president to see. Not the even the power station is built yet, we only awarded that tender on 14 August.

“The process to electrify these houses will take about six months. They have not even dug the trenches yet and it will be very difficult to go underground now, with the houses already done,” he said.

One of the residents who identified herself as Albertina said they received water meters installed by the Walvis Bay municipality, but have no electricity supply.

“We are suffering, our houses are not complete. We contacted the governor because we know we are under the governor and he came here to open the construction and was also here when the houses were open. Now we are alone without any leaders to address our situation.

“We called him on Thursday and informed him that we don’t have water here but no one came to us. The governor told us to contact the municipality, but we told him that as a leader he must do that for us,” she said.

N$43m project

The Twaloloka settlement – which has since been renamed Otweya – became a household name last year when a massive fire blazed through it, destroying shacks, leaving many homeless and killing a toddler.

Government declared the settlement a disaster site and erected makeshift shelters, while Cabinet resolved in September 2020 to construct 31 houses for the fire victims – to the tune of N$43 million.

According to this directive, the design for each housing unit included an open plan facility of 26 square meters with water, a toilet and a shower, and were scheduled for occupation already in October 2020.

Attempts to reach Andre over the weekend proved futile.

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