Govt fails housing target
May 12, 2015, 7:34am
Govt fails housing target
By Shinovene Immanuel
INADEQUATE funding for the mass housing programme has hampered progress with just over 1 000 completed houses while two main contractors are not happy that they are owed more than N$130 million.
This revelation means that the set target of putting up 10 000 houses under the mass housing programme by next year will remain a pipe dream since contractors now have to build the remaining 8 000 within a year. It also means the country will continue to struggle with a nationwide backlog of over 140 000 housing units.
At this rate of completing 1 000 houses per year, it means it will take 10 years for former President Hifikepunye Pohamba's dream of building 10 000 houses in two years to be realised.
Government's implementing agency, the National Housing Enterprise, is still struggling to raise N$2 billion it wants to fund the project, a situation that has exposed constructors to massive debts.
As a result, some contractors are now deliberately reducing the output of completed houses per month. Some are threatening to close shop altogether.
The managing director of the Power Oyeno Group, Paulo Shipoke, told The Namibian yesterday that NHE owes his company N$90 million.
Power Oyeno is building over 2 000 houses in Swakopmund and has so far completed 400. Shipoke said the company decided to “drastically” reduce the output of houses because of financial woes.
“We have exhausted all our funds. We have been funding this project from our own pockets,” he said.
Shipoke, said they will be forced to close their site if the government fails to honour their contract.
“If we don't get paid by the end of this month then I don't see us going on but close the site,” he said adding that the company has over 1 000 workers on site who will be affected by the intended closure.
In Windhoek, NHE owes CalgroKuumba N$40 million. Businessman Titus Naakumba who co-owns CalgroKuumba, refused to comment but The Namibian is informed that his company is not happy about non-payment by government.
Sources said the last time NHE fully paid CalgroKuumba was in October last year.
CalgroKuumba was given a N$350 million contract to build 1 090 houses at Otjomuise between 2014 and next year. Only about 380 houses are near completion.
A source said the company could have completed 700 units by now if the issue of financing had not crept into the project equation.
Sources close to Naakumba said the construction firm reduced its monthly output by 30% because of lack of funds.
CalgroKuumba bosses reportedly feel they are bankrolling the Windhoek project and say that is not what they signed up for.
Even though the two major mass housing contract holders are unhappy about the lack of financial injection from the government, there is a contractor who said it is unnecessary to complain.
His name is Collin Venaani, a co-owner of 7 Sirs, a firm that was given a N$441 million contract to build around 1 600 houses at Walvis Bay. NHE owes 7 Sirs around N$10 million.
He said big companies that got contracts to build in Windhoek, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay should not cry foul about funding from government but should continue working until NHE finds the money to pay them.
“Yes, NHE owes us a lot of money but we need to dig deeper. We cannot complain like other regions,” he said.
Venaani however said the bureaucracy in getting land through the municipalities has become a headache to his company which will now determine whether he will finish the houses on time or not. He said he will need more time to finish the houses.
Efforts to get comment from urban and rural development minister Sophia Shaningwa were unsuccessful but she promised in parliament three weeks ago that her ministry will look into the mass housing programme.
The Namibian is informed that former minister of housing Charles Namoloh who launched the project with Pohamba in 2013 was demoralised because of the issue of funding.
Even though Namoloh defended the project in public, those close to him said the minister was not happy at how the government allocated only N$640 million in two years, a situation which drove NHE into the red.
NHE is not a saint in this project either. The parastatal bosses have been accused of dishing out inflated mass housing contracts to friends and relatives of its executives and ignored orders by Namoloh to re-negotiate the N$2,9 billion tenders last year.