Swakop mass housing empty

The urban and rural development ministry denies claims that houses have been abandoned.

29 January 2020 | Infrastructure

CATHERINE SASMAN



Construction on almost half of the 2 796 houses built under the controversial mass housing scheme at Swakopmund has yet to be completed, and houses have been left empty.

On Monday, the ministry of urban and rural development was quick to respond to a viral video and an audio clip claiming the mass housing project in Swakopmund’s Extension 7 has been abandoned and is a waste of taxpayer resources.

The ministry said ‘corrective measures’ are being taken to deal with houses that are incomplete.

Four-thousand houses have been constructed under the mass housing scheme.

Of these, 2 796 have been completed and, according to the ministry, “handed over to the needy”.

Another 1 162 are “commenced but not completed” and at “various stages of construction, completion and occupation”.

Ghost town

Most of the houses built under the mass housing scheme at Swakopmund remain empty. Despite this, last year the Swakopmund municipality announced its own “40/40 housing initiative”, under which it plans to build an additional 1 590 low-cost houses behind the DRC informal settlement.

The ministry on Monday said 1 521 houses were supposed to be built at Swakopmund under the mass housing scheme on three construction sites. So far, 1 016 have been completed and handed over.

While work on all sites has progressed well, the ministry said, problems have cropped up in the construction of 505 houses supposed to be built by a company called Ferusa Capital, owned by brothers Nelson and Thobias Akwenye.

These are the houses that appear in the viral video, the ministry said.

When Ferusa got the tender for the construction of 505 houses from the National Housing Enterprise, it subcontracted to Chinese company New Era Investment and Paving and Construction.

The Ferusa tender was not on schedule because of an ensuing dispute between it and its subcontractors due to non-payment, despite the fact that Ferusa got paid by the government, the ministry said.

New Era Investments took Ferusa to court, which resulted in a complete stoppage of work on the site. New Era Investments won the case and owns the properties until Ferusa pays up.

The ministry said government is neither party to this dispute, nor owes any money to Ferusa.

Meanwhile, the ministry has quantified the uncompleted structures, and appointed a security company to guard the site against vandalism.

It has also instituted legal action against Ferusa for breach of contract and related damages. The ministry is in negotiation with the subcontractors “to secure an arrangement that will allow the resumption of work and the completion of the project”, which it said is at an advanced stage.

Ferusa tendered N$173 million for the housing scheme.

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