High Rental Prices Forces Pon Graduate To Live In Shack

16 Jun 2015 08:20am
WINDHOEK, 16 JUN (NAMPA) – Fed up with rising rental prices, a Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN) graduate is contemplating setting up his own makeshift shack, if the severe lack of housing in the country is not addressed.
The 40-year-old Namibian man, Johny*, expressed disappointment with the government and the management of the City of Windhoek (CoW) for failing to control and regulate the housing and renting prices in the country and in the capital.
He told Nampa on the sideline during the CoW's public meeting at Ella du Plessis Senior Secondary School recently that the housing and land crisis with exorbitant housing and renting prices remains a big concern specially for the young graduates.
Narrating his renting experience, which dates back 2001, when he was a student at PoN and has been renting and still renting with the members of his family.
“When I was a student, I rented an outside room (all in one- cooking and sleeping) for N.dollars 2000. Due to the expansion of my family I moved on to rent a two-bed-room at the monthly cost of N.dollars 8 000,” he said.
Clearly frustrated by the housing situation in the city, Johny said he will be forced to go to the informal settlement a put up a shack.
The man further informed this agency that he applied for land through the CoW in 2005 way before the Affirmative Repositioning Land Activists came on board.
His frustration, this reporter gathered, is also irked by the fact that those who applied for land via AR could stand the possibility of getting land before he does.
City of Windhoek's former Mayor Elaine Trepper and Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) Councillor Tartisius /Gaiseb informed a public meeting a week ago that the housing problem is a national issue that need urgent attention from both sides, that is the local authorities and central government.
Trepper informed about 12 people in attendance that CoW indeed has a waiting list of people who wants land in the country, however, lack of serviced land in the city remains a challenge.
Trepper noted that as a result, a number of Windhoek residents are living in the illegal shacks in most informal settlements.
“We have noted that most of the shacks are owned by the elites who are renting it to the poor. The very same elites who own proper houses make business by renting out their houses to foreigners whilst leaving in a shack themselves,”she explained.
The increase of illegal shacks, she noted, is caused by the high migrating of people from different towns and villages around the country.
Meanwhile, CoW's Public Relations Officer Lydia Amutenya told Nampa on enquiry that CoW's boundaries and especially the informal areas are growing at an alarming pace, with an estimated growth of 10 per cent per annum in the North Western of the City, with the overall population growth estimated at four per cent per annum.
Amutenya said the challenge of migration is mostly high demand of municipal services to the residents, and most of the residents are unable to afford due to unemployment.
“Although the City is mandated to deliver these services effectively, it rely on its own revenue, which is composed mainly of property rate taxes and charges for providing water, electricity, refuse removal, sanitation and other services rendered to the residents,” Amutenya stressed.
She said the City is mostly operate on a cost recovery basis, which means it can only render services on sustainable basis if such can be paid for.
The PRO stressed that the influx puts pressure on the limited available resources, as the new residents mostly settle on illegally grabbed unplanned land, yet they expect municipal services.
“The rapid migration has resulted in the explosion on the City's population and rapid growth especially in the informal settlement where majority of our residents are living, and where cases of illegal settlements are recorded,” she said.
This had resulted in high demand of serviced land for housing as well as the basic services such as water, electricity and proper sanitation.
According to the leadership of the Teachers' Union of Namibia (TUN), over 200 teachers are said to be living in corrugated iron dwellings (shacks) in the capital due to the unaffordability of land and housing rental prices.
TUN's president Mahongora Kavihuha said the research has it that most teachers are living in the shacks without electricity and proper sanitation.
He said this situation makes it difficult for teachers to prepare for their teaching lessons as they prepare these lessons by the use of candles.
However, the eradication of housing shortage has been a song of all appointed ministers of education since independence since 1990 and until today the situation remains the same with no significant changes.
Kavihuha, thus, expressed disappointment that when they (Education ministers) leave the office one hardly observe any significant improvement.
“This became a song sung without any emotions and sensitivities,” he said.
Kavihuha has described this housing or land problem issue as a 'natural disaster', thus calling on the government to declare it as such.
“If we do not declare the housing problem as a natural disaster today, then we are lying ourselves,” he said.
TUN's president was of the the opinion that the government need to subsidize the building materials for all teachers who on their own want to build houses especially in rural areas, and government need to allocate a specific area in towns only for teachers.
During the recent land delivery retreat (24 February 2015), Mayor of the CoW Muesee Kazapua said lack of housing and acute shortage of serviced plots for housing and commercial development bought about mainly by the lack of adequate financial resources and bureaucracy in the land delivery process.
Kazapua said the rapid urbanisation and mushrooming of informal settlements contributes to the high Windhoek population growth that have an adverse impact on the planning and the City’s developmental efforts.
He said there is a call for the CoW to assess and revisit their operational approach and inclusive of the local authority legislation Act 23 of 1992.

* - not his real name