Works denies selling govt flats

The government wants to develop an integrated framework for outsourcing the maintenance and management of its flats.

17 May 2018 | Government

The Ministry of Works and Transport says it is not selling any government flats, as it does not have the mandate to do so.

An SMS that appeared in the media earlier this month alleged that the ministry was selling all flats under its management to private companies.

Not so, said the ministry, adding that it was merely soliciting proposals from “experienced and professional companies” dealing with property management to conduct an assessment of the government flats and to develop an integrated framework or guidelines on how these flats across the country should be outsourced, maintained and managed.

It expects such companies to assess the current status of these flats and develop an accurate housing database, develop guidelines and recommendations on how outsourcing of the flats can be done, and to propose public-private-partnership arrangements for the maintenance of the flats, as well as developing tender specifications for the outsourcing of these flats.

A cabinet decision to have the rental of these flats outsourced was already taken in 2010, but has seemingly not been implemented yet.

Many of these flats and other government housing, occupied by government employees and family members, have fallen into disrepair with maintenance and cleaning services seemingly not being done.

The ministry, in a press statement issued yesterday, acknowledged that its tenants “are not contributing” towards the actual operational and maintenance costs and only pay a minimal percentage of their gross monthly salaries for rent.

Those living in one-bedroom or bachelor's flats pay a measly 4% of their gross monthly salary for rent. For a two- to three-bedroom flat, tenants only pay 6% of their salaries and for four-bedroom or larger flats or houses they pay only 8%.

Despite this, the ministry said many of its tenants either do not pay the applicable percentage rent or do not pay rent at all. There are also many who are illegally squatting in these government buildings and many “legal” tenants sub-let rooms or entire apartments to third parties or conduct commercial businesses or other illegal activities from these government properties.

The ministry also acknowledged being in arrears with its payment of municipal services to the Windhoek municipality and other local authorities.

The ministry said where government flats or developments are equipped with water and/or electricity meters, the tenants pay the actual costs of consumption.

Most of the government complexes, however, are only equipped with one bulk meter, and the works ministry foots the bill for the water and electricity consumption and also pays the rates and taxes, as well as all other related costs such as for refuse removal.

CATHERINE SASMAN

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