Mass housing behind schedule
Plans by the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) to hand over 1 000 completed houses under the mass housing project by the end of this month could prove difficult after it emerged that only 53 houses nationwide have so far been completed under the scheme.
In its latest progress report on the implementation of phase one of the project, dated September 3, 2014, the NHE indicated that 33 houses at Henties Bay and 20 houses at Outjo have so far been completed.
The NHE further noted that 100 houses have been completed at Eenhana and a further 48 houses at Lüderitz, but those are NHE Turnkey houses and not necessarily part of the mass housing project.
President Hifikepunye Pohamba launched the ambitious national mass housing project in November last year. The aim is to build 185 000 houses by 2030.
NHE spokesperson Eric Libongani told Namibian Sun that they expect 1 000 houses to be completed by the end of September and handed over to the government.
The 1 000 houses that are expected to be completed by the end of the month are part of the 5 040 houses that the NHE is set to deliver by 2015. According to the report, of the 1 191 houses planned in Windhoek, the NHE expects to receive 300 houses by December this year, while in Rehoboth 40 of the 62 planned houses are expected to be completed by the end of the month.
At Swakopmund, where 3 034 houses are planned, and at Walvis Bay, where 1 595 houses are planned by the year 2016, 200 and 114 completed houses, respectively, are expected to be handed over to the NHE by the end of September.
The progress report further states that at Oshikuku, the NHE expects 20 completed houses by the end of the month, while 20 of Nkurenkuru’s 285 planned houses are also expected to be done by the end of September.
At Katima Mulilo, where 327 houses are planned, the NHE anticipates getting 40 houses and 40 more at Bukalo by the end of the month.
At Oshakati, the NHE expects to receive 150 completed houses in two weeks’ time and at Okahao and Opuwo, 50 and 15 completed houses, respectively. Other towns where completion of some of the planned houses is expected by the end of September include Keetmanshoop with 97, Karasburg with 74, Mariental with 40, Otavi with 10, Khorixas with 25 and Rundu with 90.
Libongani says the expectations are based on when the contractors started building and the pace at which they are moving.
“This is a unique project and it is a record to build 1 000-plus houses in seven months. I can assure you that it has never been done before and even SA couldn’t do it,” he said.
Asked if he thinks they will meet their deadline considering that only a few houses have been completed, Libongani said it was not within his mandate to answer such questions.
“In terms of progress, we can report on that, but any questions outside those boundaries should be referred to the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development,” said Libongani.
Although contractors are rushing to meet the deadline to give Pohamba an opportunity to hand over some houses before his term in office ends, a few issues are hampering progress.
Paulinus Angula of Headhigh Investment, the company contracted to build 272 houses at Okahao, said he hopes to hand over 50 houses to NHE only by mid-October.
“We have almost completed 46 houses, but due to the delays such as the approval of the plans by the town council, we will only have those houses ready by the second week of October,” said Angula.
Developer Joseph Shikongo of Flic Enterprise, the company currently building at Oshikuku, also believes he will need until November to complete 50 houses.
“Most of the houses are almost done, but due to the fact that we only started construction in May, we anticipate that we will only be done by November or later,” said Shikongo.
At Katima Mulilo where 327 houses are being constructed by Madawa Investment, developer Charles Urib is hopeful that he will hand over 40 houses to NHE by the end of October. “We are progressing very well considering that we only started construction in April,” he said.
Libongani said NHE was not as focused on the number of houses that have already been completed as it is on the progress of the entire project nationwide.
“Some of those houses may not be complete, but they are in their final stages. If you consider how much has been done in just a few months, you can see how far we have come,” said Libongani.
Rachel Nel from Neto Contractors, the company that built the houses at Outjo, confirmed that his company handed over to NHE all 20 houses last month.
“There are about 10 houses that still don’t have electricity, but apart from that, the houses are complete,” said Nel.
Ben Zaaruka of Stantoll Properties said he is pushing for the first 100 houses to be completed between September 15 and October 15 at Ekuku in Oshakati to allow Pohamba to present the houses to their owners before his term in office ends.
Stantoll Properties, one of Zaaruka’s companies, is expected to build 400 houses at Ekuku for low- to middle-income earners over the next three years.
Despite the progress at some towns, others towns like Omuthiya and Lüderitz have suffered several setbacks and no houses will be near completion by the end of the month.
At Omuthiya, where 50 houses are planned, 10 are allegedly under construction while 83 of the 148 planned houses at Lüderitz have now only gotten off the ground.
There is no evident of the mass housing project at Eenhana due to a lack of serviced land.
Ohangwena governor Usko Nghaamwa said the mass housing project at Eenhana has not kicked off as no land has been serviced for the construction of the houses.
“The big problem is that we have land, but it has not been serviced. The town council doesn’t have money to service and neither does NHE. The best thing would be if a private contractor comes in and services the land,” said Nghaamwa.
Libongani said the delay in some towns is mainly due to the fact that NHE Turnkey houses are currently under construction there and serviced plots are not always available for the scheme.
“The Eenhana it is not mass housing, but it is an NHE project which was there before mass housing. A house is just a house. NHE has been providing houses before the mass housing project and we will continue to do so,” said Libongani, when questioned about the lack of available houses under the mass housing programme at Eenhana.
Attempts to get comment from Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, Charles Namoloh, proved futile as his mobile phone continued to go unanswered.
By Merja Iileka Namibian Sun