STATEMENT BY HIS WORSHIP CLLR MUESEE KAZAPUA, MAYOR OF THE CITY OF WINDHOEK, AT THE OCCASION OF THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF PUBLIC MEETINGS, HAINYEKO COMMUNITY HALL, 16 MAY 2015, 11H00
I feel very honoured and privileged to address you, esteemed residents of our City, at this occasion marking the beginning of the first round of our bi-annual public meetings 2015.
Program Director, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The importance for the hosting of public meetings cannot be over emphasized; as it gives raise to the true meaning of public participation; with the aim to bridging the gap between us as leaders; and the general public, whereby building a common understanding about our local situation. I must therefore, thank all of you for finding time to join us here today.
It is important to mention that these meetings are taking place at the time of the year when the City is busy with the drafting of its Budget 2015/2016. It is therefore a right time for residents to make input to the budget, while at the same time being mindful that not all proposals may be accommodated due to lack of adequate resources. The public meetings will be held from today 16 May 2015 to 7 June 2015.
In launching these meetings, I would like to focus my address at topical developmental issues that have attracted public and Council attention during this financial year, 2014/2015.
Fellow Residents, ladies and gentlemen,
The issue of land for housing in the City has become a sensitive topical national issue. I therefore wish to use this opportunity to share with you our efforts on this matter. It is important to appreciate and understand that the issue is not about availability of land itself, but it is about unavailability of land that is serviced; in terms of connection to potable water, electricity and sewer networks to make it fit for sale and subsequent development. First, you need to have municipal services on the land, before making it available for housing development. That is the first step we need to consider and understand when talking about provision of housing.
The government of the Republic of Namibia launched the Targeted Intervention Program for Employment and Economic Growth (TIPEEG) in 2011. Under this initiative; an allocation was made to local authorities for the servicing of land for housing development in the low income areas. The City of Windhoek received its portion of this money and commenced its Phase I of land servicing in Otjomuise Ext. 10 in 2012, with Phase II, planned for Ongulumbashe, Havana and Okahandja Park.
At this time, the City also considered various affordable housing solutions presented to it by different local companies; and approved three (3) companies whose demo houses met municipal standards. Equally, the City entered into public-private partnership with local companies to service land in Otjomuise Ext.4 for low to middle income housing and Academia Ext 1 for middle to higher income earners.
In addition, Government launched the National Mass Housing Programme, which is exactly aimed at easing the housing backlog, not only in Windhoek, but in the country as a whole. It is important to mention that the mass housing project is potentially targeting low income earners; such as residents of informal settlements.
The intention is to afford all Namibians with an opportunity to access an affordable shelter to call home.
Immediately following the launch of the National Mass Housing Project by former President, HE. Hifikepunye Pohamba, in November 2013, the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development requested all local authorities to commit serviced and un-serviced land to fast track implementation of the project. In embracing this noble national initiative, the City submitted its list of available land in the low cost areas as per Ministerial directive. The identified land which was since handed over to the Ministry included the following areas:
a) Otjomuise Ext 10
b) Freedom Land A and B
c) Greenwell Matongo D
e) Otjomuise Infill Project
f) Havana Ext 1
g) Mix Settlement
h) Goreangab Ext 4
i) Otjomuise Ext 12, and
j) Otjomuise Ext 13
It is important to note that the aforementioned areas make up 90% of the available development land in the City. Apart from Otjomuise Ext. 10 which was serviced with TIPEEG funds by then, the rest of the said areas were; and are not serviced to date. As I am speaking now, the municipal land in the said areas has been handed over to the line Ministry for the national Mass Housing project. It is therefore important to inform you that, although not yet legally transferred, that land is committed to the Ministry Urban and Rural Development for the mass housing program.
We are hopeful that the Government through the line Ministry will urgently attend to the current challenges being experienced with the implementation of the well-intended national mass housing program.
On our part, we held a land delivery workshop towards the end of February this year, with the aim to streamline our processes; while at the same time looking at relevant national laws that need amendments. In our discussions; we appreciated that the limited access to land in the City as the most profound housing constraint in Windhoek centered on the mismatch between the supply of serviced land and the demand for it. We have also identified available pockets of land that could be availed for affordable housing solutions. Further, I have made Land Delivery and Provision of Affordable Housing, one of my 8-priority agenda points 2015. I have also assigned two Councillors to this agenda point; as well as; on the issue of provision of affordable services (water, electricity) to informal settlements.
The much anticipated construction of houses at Otjomuise Ext 10 under the National Mass Housing Project, which is administered by the NHE, is unfortunately still work in progress as no houses has yet been handed over. We are however encouraged to see this project getting off ground, as we believe that; if well structured; it will alleviate the lack of housing that the City is faced with today.
Council and Government are aware and mindful of the current land situation in the City. However, the un-procedural occupation of municipal land creates yet another serious barrier to land delivery. This is because the land which Council earmark to servicing, is un-procedurally occupied. I therefore call upon all our residents to join hands with us in creating lasting solutions for housing shortage, other than worsening the problem through land grabbing.
Despite the rather insurmountable serviced land shortage, I am happy to inform you that more than 1000 residential plots will be made available for development this year in Khomasdal Ext 16, Otjomuise Ext 4 and Academia Ext 1 Phase II. Planning and Design of TIPEEG land delivery Phase II, for Havana and Ongulumbashe has also been finalised and we will engage Government to make funds available to enable us to roll out this project.
On municipal infrastructural development, I am pleased to inform you that in June 2014, the Council inaugurated the Omuvapu, Julius Nyerere and Ongava streets, which were upgraded from being gravel roads to a bitumen status. At the same event, a ground-breaking ceremony for the Havana’s Monte Christo extension, Walvis Bay and Bethanie streets, together with Lucia and Tolla streets of the Goreangab Suburb. The contracts have already been issued and some of the said streets have already been tarred, while work is in progress on the remaining ones.
Other roads upgrading projects include a N$15million projects for tarring of 14 gravel roads in Wanaheda extension 7 & 8 which commenced in January 2015 and is expected to be completed by December 2015.
On the provision of electricity, I am happy to inform you that the following projects have also been successfully implemented during the current financial year and some are ongoing:
· Construction of Katutura East Distribution Station – which is the new electrical load centre (sub-station), completed at a cost of N$ 800 000.00.
· Electrification of Tweetheni – Ehangano Settlement of Okuryangava, Khaetani Settlement, Otjomuise Extension 2, Onghulumbashe and Okahandja Park to the total cost of N$11.1 million, which started earlier this year.
I am also happy to inform you that as part of our international relations, we have received a donation of 110 solar lighting equipment from our sister city, Nanjing in China. We are busy identifying the neediest households, especially those headed by children, pensioners and the vulnerable people around the City.
Other completed and ongoing projects include:
· Construction of a Family Park in Dorado Park at a cost of N$ 750 000.00.
· Construction of the Nathanael Maxuilili Community Library in Okahandja Park/Babylon areas completed at a cost of N$ 6 000 000.00.
· The expansion of the Greenwell Matongo Community Library- where construction of the Children’s’ Section is ongoing at the cost of N$1,2million.
· Construction of ablution facilities at Tugela Family Park in Wanaheda has been completed.
· Construction of additional structures at Khomasdal Community Hall, completed at a cost of N$ 550 000.00.
· Upgrading of Jonas Haidua Early Childhood Development Centres in Ombili, were children from surrounding informal areas are being catered for.
· Upgrading of the Onkugo Ye Pongo Community Hall in Okuryangava, completed at a cost of N$1,400,000.00
In terms of crime prevention, the City Police plans are for each zone to have a response vehicle in order to intensify patrol activities.
The aforementioned projects are a summary of many developments that the City Council has undertaken during the current financial year, starting July 2014. They are a culmination of requests received from the public at platform such as this one. I therefore encourage all our residents to continue attending public meetings; so that they can influence the development agenda of our city. With these meetings we demonstrate and promote openness, accountability, transparent governance and inclusive decision-making in matters affecting our city.
On this note, I would like to assure our residents that the city leadership is working around the clock, to manage the limited resources at our disposal to ensure sustainable delivery of municipal services. The challenges facing us are enormous and require contribution and a concerted effort by all of us. Let’s work together through your Community Development Committee- to your Constituency Councillors, to make Windhoek a City, in which all of us can find pride.
On this note, Ladies and Gentlemen, I now have the honour to declare the First Round of 2015 Public Meetings officially launched.
I thank you.