NHE boss sniffs at PPP model

The CEO of the National Housing Enterprise has criticised the public-private partnerships employed by town councils to speed up housing delivery.

31 August 2017 | Infrastructure

National Housing Enterprise (NHE) chief executive officer Gisbertus Mukulu says as long as private developers service land and build houses, property prices will remain high.

Talking to Namibian Sun at the Ongwediva Annual Trade Fair, Mukulu said developers would only be able to build affordable houses if councils gave them serviced land to build on.

Mukulu was responding to a question as to whether public-private partnership (PPP) agreements between local authorities and developers are a good solution for low-cost housing.

“I do not think that after a developer has serviced the land and constructed the houses, the house will be affordable and people will buy,” Mukulu said.

Of late, local authorities have been entering into multimillion-dollar partnerships with developers to build houses for low- and middle-income earners.

Mukulu, who heads the parastatal tasked with housing, says councils may fail to reap the anticipated results.

He bases this argument on the number of houses that remain unoccupied long after they have been completed in a country with a housing backlog of over 100 000 units.

Urban and rural development minister Sophia Shaningwa on several occasions has expressed concern about the issue of unoccupied houses despite the high demand for housing.

In a presentation at a briefing session, Mukulu said the NHE had a waiting list of about 86 103 people wanting homes.

He said the housing development in the four O-regions so far stood at 1 799 units, of which 1 425 were NHE project houses, 333 fell under the Mass Housing Programme and 37 were under the NHE rented housing scheme.

Mukulu further said that the NHE currently owned 416 serviced plots and 2 981 unserviced plots countrywide. It had been offered 837 serviced plots by local authorities.

He said the most pressing constraint for the state-owned enterprise was the unavailability of serviced land.

Other challenges included the exorbitant land prices charged by local authorities, limited financial resources and the lengthy land delivery process, which he said were hampering the NHE's efforts to build affordable houses.

Some of the people at the meeting raised concern about the need to update the NHE waiting list.

NHE northern branch manager Donald Tjikune responded that the waiting list was only updated when the NHE had a project in a particular area.

Tjikune said it would be a costly exercise to seek new information from everyone on the waiting list.

KENYA KAMBOWE

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