Housing project courts controversy at Gobabis

20 Feb 2014 15:00pm
GOBABIS, 20 FEB (NAMPA) - The company responsible for the much-publicised low-cost housing initiative in Rehoboth - Hydraform Interlocking Building Solution - has come under the spotlight in the Omaheke Region for alleged questionable business practices.
Hydraform Interlocking Building Solution from the Hardap Region claims that it can build a one-bedroom house of 55 square metres for N.dollars 30 000; an 86 square metre two-bedroom house for N.dollars 60 000; a three-bedroom house of 93 square metres for N.dollars 80 000; and a 115 square metre house of four bedrooms for N.dollars 100 000.
Since the company extended its operations to Gobabis over a month ago, throngs of desperate house-seekers have joined the programme by filling out application forms and paying the prescribed administration fee.
The programme has, however, been received with mixed feelings at this eastern town.
The Municipality of Gobabis was the first to raise the red flag on the operations of the company after its representatives allegedly tricked desperate home- seekers into joining the initiative.
The municipality raised concerns about the credibility of the company’s claims that it would build houses for those who join the programme, as the local authority had not availed any land to the company.
Both Gobabis mayor Sila Bezuidenhoudt and Town Council chairperson Liberius Kalili confirmed to Nampa on Thursday that the municipality has not sold or leased any land to that company.
Another contentious issue raised by concerned members of the community on the housing scheme was the payment of ‘administration fees’ ranging between N.dollars 150 and N.dollars 500 to the company, which are non-refundable.
This news agency has learned that the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) has been keeping a close watch on the company after the company was ordered to stop its operations in the region.
NamPol’s Regional Commander for the Omaheke Region, Josephat Abel said the police are investigating matters surrounding the operations of the company after receiving complaints from the public.
The top cop noted that he had summoned the company’s Managing Director, Marius !Kharigub to his office to provide answers on the operations of the company, but the latter apparently failed to provide satisfactory answers.
“I asked him questions concerning these administration fees they are collecting, and how they would be building houses for people without land.
But he did not give satisfactory answers. This thing smells of a scam,” Abel said.
Contacted for comment, !Kharigub shifted the blame for the bad publicity courted by his company onto ‘jealous leaders who do not want to see development’, in reference to municipal councillors.
!Kharigub claimed that the company never wanted to buy land from the municipality, but merely facilitates the process for the acquisition of land to its members.
However, this is contrary to what the company’s agents at Gobabis have been informing residents.
“We do not need land. We don’t want land. What will we do with land? All we want is for our members to have access to land, and then we can come in and build houses for them. That’s all,” he stressed.
He further stated that the administrative fees charged by the company are to facilitate the entire process involved in the construction of the houses.
He could, nonetheless, not say why the payment of such fees comes with a non-refundable clause.
The company will have a meeting on Sunday with its Gobabis-based members and the general public to iron out any misunderstandings, !Kharigub said.