By Engel Nawatiseb OUTJO THE mayor of Outjo, Justine /Gomes, says housing needs for residents will always be a priority. She stressed that housing needs in the Kunene Region have mounted pressure on local authorities because of a population growth rate of about 1,9 percent. /Gomes says the municipality of Maarsen in The Netherlands stepped in last year to invest close to N$390 000 for the construction of eight houses at Outjo. “Some of the beneficiaries have already extended their houses to accommodate extended families. It is basically the idea of our Council to provide basic housing in the size affordable to Council so that more housing units could be erected to benefit more families.” She urged beneficiaries to commit themselves towards the payment of housing rent and basic and additional charges to strengthen the financial capacity of council treasury as well as the revolving fund created to fund viable projects at the town. “We had a very good year with visible development taking place in favour of the residents. Our focus certainly is with the housing dimension of development.” She added that the Ministry of Regional, Local Government, Housing and Rural Development has provided N$1,6 million to her council to complete the third phase of the Single Quarters housing project involving the construction of 29 houses. /Gomes however says the Single Quarters could not be demolished yet because the last phase of the project has not been completed. The ministry also provided a further N$1,2 million as funding for the Build Together housing project. The project could not be commissioned because no erven are available. The mayor noted that potential beneficiaries that have previously acquired erven are being granted loans to build low-income houses through the programme. She expressed the need for the surveying of new ervens in order to address housing needs at the town in the most urgent manner. /Gomes appealed to beneficiaries of the programme to utilize such funds for the intended purpose instead of misappropriating such funds through the purchase of personal items. “Some local authorities have fallen into the trap of mismanagement of the Build Together scheme and as such, the ministry hesitates to release funds to such local authorities. I am however concerned about some houses that are still incomplete because it does not portray a positive image about the project and this concern should be addressed as a matter of urgency,” she lamented. The “mushrooming” of unlicensed “shebeens” is another obstacle confronting development at Outjo, says /Gomes. According to her, shebeen owners have turned a blind eye to the legal provision regulating the shebeen industry at the town. Trading in illegal businesses in the Single Quarters has reached alarming proportions and subsequently has become a serious health threat for other occupants of the quarters. Murder cases committed in and around the Single Quarters have also been reported to the police. This is a great concern for council and the only way to do away with these activities is to have the structures totally demolished as a matter of urgency. The Kunene Regional Council reportedly donated N$40 000 to build 70 informal trading blocks and two ablution blocks to house Single Quarter residents in the near future. She appealed to local businesses and other stakeholders to donate more funds to enable council to construct more trading stalls that are required to accommodate all inhabitants of the quarters.
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