Enter ‘Housing Dignity Initiative’

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Namibia’s housing problem is poised for critical levels, as evidenced by the rapid mushrooming of shack settlements especially in the urban areas of the country. Currently, the country is facing a huge backlog of 300 000 houses and the situation is further exacerbated by the rapidly growing population, as close to 600 people migrate to the City of Windhoek on a monthly basis in search of better jobs and decent homes. Most of them end up erecting shacks in informal settlements. Some experts in the housing industry believe that the situation is becoming worse because of the lack of a working sustainable solution, raising fears that Vision 2030 might end up being only a “pipe dream”. Just recently, it was reported that the Build Together Programme under the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development is currently incurring losses due to abuse by local authorities. Given the current situation where many local authorities are in financial distress, they take money meant for the programme to pay salaries and other bills. The current housing backlog is mostly due to limited resources allocated for housing delivery. The latest figures indicate that close to 100 000 people live in the capital’s squatter settlement areas, which is one third of Windhoek’s current population. However, in a drive to stem the growing problem of informal settlements in urban areas countrywide, Mbok Investments Company Limited (MINVESTCO) has initiated the “Housing Dignity Initiative” (DHI) that will focus on the construction of affordable homes. MINVESTCO is a Nami-bian investments brokerage (intermediary) and holding company that specialises in economic development, having a consortium of local companies as well. As the principle investor and holding company, MIN-VESTCO initiated the North-land Development Project Limited – an economic and property development company with a special focus on Namibian development needs guided by the development plan of Vision 2030. Chief Executive Officer of MINVESTCO Tony Mbok told New Era in an interview yesterday that DHI aims to build 20 000 to 50 000 low cost houses across the country through an economical and conventional technology. The price range for these houses will be between N$50 000 and N$70 000, which can be paid off in instalments. “The construction methodology is called the Moladi Building system, a South African invention where houses are built using Moladi plastic like mould structured walls with fitted doors, windows and electrical fittings,” explained Mbok. A conventional mixture of sand and cement with special setting biodegradable chemical is then poured into the mould-like structure, which is left for a couple of hours to harden before the Moladi is removed to make up a smooth surfaced building that does not require any plastering. Foundations are either built on a floating raft or conventional cement foundation. Mostly people in the low and extra low-income group with a monthly salary scale of N$800-N$2 000 stand to benefit from this economically viable option. However, interested higher income earners will not be excluded. The houses can start from a 300-square metre plot with two to three bedrooms, a kitchen, living area, a shower and toilet. Mbok added that some local banks have also been consulted to buy into the idea of affordable housing for the poor, a concept that has for long not been considered by financial banking institutions in the country. Negotiations are still underway. Currently DHI is busy with the first phase of providing plots to interested clients on the 210 000 square metre piece of land (81/37 Nubiamis) situated in the Lafrenz area opposite Okuryangava in Katutura. Between 1 600 and 1 800 houses will be constructed on that land starting end of this year. So far all the low-income plots have been sold out. Still to be sold are middle-income plots at the Nubiamis Hills that go for between N$288,750 and 472,500 each. These prices are higher due to cost of bulk services such as installing a sewerage system in hilly terrain. Similar DHI ventures will also take place in the towns of Rundu, Henties Bay and Walvis Bay.

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