Rumours of a rip-off while plots lie idle

10 April 2018 | Government

While many local authorities across the country are finding it difficult to provide serviced land for people to construct houses, the Oshakati town council has about 3 800 serviced plots that are lying idle.

Oshakati, with the assistance of the government through the urban and rural development ministry, has spent more than N$250 million on a mass land servicing programme.

In the past two years Oshakati managed to service 4 402 plots of which 505 have been built on. Stakeholders have described this as disappointing, saying that the construction of homes must take priority over the servicing of land. Namibian Sun has been reliably informed that at Ekuku township, where N$97 million was spent on servicing 2 212 plots, only 268 houses have been constructed, while at Extension 16, where N$74 million was used to service 270 plots, only 22 houses have been constructed so far.

Last year in August, council announced that 978 plots were serviced to the tune of N$140 million at Ehenye. This brings the total number of serviced plots at Ehenye to 1 437 where only 215 houses have been constructed.

In an interview with Namibian Sun, Oshakati's CEO Werner Iita did not deny that the pace of the construction of houses is very slow, especially at Extension 16 which is an area for the higher income group.

As for areas such as Ekuku and Ehenye, Iita explained that the plots were recently developed and handed over, and that construction of houses is expected to start soon.

“Those plots have been allocated to people and developers have been appointed which means construction will start soon,” Iita said.



He however pointed out that the delay can be attributed to the process of financial institutions approving loans for the beneficiaries.



However, the council has been criticised for not allowing beneficiaries to construct homes with developers of their own choice.



Only the residents at Extension 16 are allowed to construct with a developer of their choice because it is a higher income area.



Council argues that the system of providing a developer serviced plots to construct houses is faster but, residents say this makes room for the developers to hike prices to maximise profits.



Oshakati, with an estimate population of 60 000, has a housing backlog of 10 420 of which 3 551 plots have been allocated already.



Last year, seven developers were approved by the council to construct 70 houses each.



The proposals made by the developers indicate that they do not have an exact price for each type of house they will construct.



When asked whether the council regulates how much a developer can charge, Iita said they do not and they only intervene when a complaint is brought to the council's office.



Namibian Sun has been informed that once a resident takes his pre-approved loan to the developer, the developer sets the price on the pre-approved loan and not the price which was presented to council.



“The developers are ripping the people off by asking them to go to the back and get a pre-approved loan. If they see you qualify for N$800 000, they will refuse to construct a N$280 000 house for you. Out of desperation you will end up settling for a N$700 000 house because they will tell you to take it or leave it as there many other buyers,” a concerned stakeholder explained.



When contacted for comment urban and rural development minister Peya Mushelenga said he could not talk about the affairs of Oshakati as he had not visited the Oshana Region yet.



Gerson Keendjele, the owner of Okau General Dealers, one of the contractors who have been allocated 70 plots to construct houses, he said that they have not commenced with the construction of houses because they are still busy with clients securing approvals from the bank.



The agreement between council and the developers is that they should commence with the construction of houses within eight months after ministerial approval and failure in doing so, will cause the allocation to be withdrawn.

KENYA KAMBOWE

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