Shaningwa to tackle outrageous housing prices
The Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Sophia Shaningwa made clear that her ministry will not allow the exorbitant housing prices to continue causing an acetous taste in the mouths of many Namibians.
Speaking during a parliament session last week, Shaningwa said the per square meter cost of houses as per contracts signed are outrageous and result in extremely high prices of the consequent houses built, thereby defeating the goal of affordable housing.
“Our intervention is not to unnecessarily disadvantage anyone, but simply to try to rectify a problem that is there for everyone to see, including the contractors who still have huge unpaid bills owed to them,” she said.
She urged the contractors and other parties affected by the uncertain stance of the pricing issue to be understanding and patient in order to allow the government and its agency to verify the situation on the ground and find a feasible solution in the interest of all.
“It is a collective responsibility of every caring Namibian to play their part to make housing affordable to our people, not only that of the government’s,” she stressed.
Shaningwa said as far as legal challenges or claims are concerned, they will deal with them as they come. “We already have one of such claims already lodged against the NHE (National Housing Enterprise) and the government, and we are dealing with it,” she added.
On a question regarding cross subsidization that took place by Member of Parliament and former NHE chief executive officer Mike Kavekotora, Shaningwa said that there is a clear separation between the housing development projects falling under Mass Housing and those of the NHE.
“The government has directed and been ensuring that there is no mix up. The funding for the two are also separate,” she said.
Shaningwa further said the mass housing programme was meant for ultra- low income and low income earners who applied for and are on the list of the respective local authorities where they reside.
“Our desire is to facilitate the delivery of houses that meet the basic needs of our people in terms of design, quality and affordability. These are some of the key elements and desired outputs or incomes that we are glad to see, and this is amongst others the one reason why the government is intervening with a review to try to put the programme back on course and in direction where these desired outcomes can be achieved,” she noted.
According to Shaningwa there are no other cost effective house building designs other than those used by the NHE over the years. “So going forward we will look into alternative designs and building materials and technologies with a view to reduce the cost of houses that are being built under this programme and other government supported programmes,” Shaningwa added.
In regard to the pre- independence loan financial burden put on the shoulders of some local authorities, Shaningwa said that caution has to be taken and a careful analysis of the situation is first done for each of the cases before a decision can be made of whether or not there are valid grounds for a possible writing off.
“My ministry has already written to local authorities for those who have this problem to proof thereof. After our analysis of this information, we will obviously have to submit the cases that we find treasury for final consideration and decision,” she said.
She added that consultations with the Attorney General and the Auditor General on these and some of the cases have to be done before decisions have to be taken.
by Donald Matthys