By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK Housing remains the government’s constant problem and a critical component of economic development in the country. So said the minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, John Pandeni when he motivated his ministry’s vote in the National Assembly on Tuesday. “A house without the necessary basic services is not enough. It requires water, sewerage, electricity and infrastructure to complete the whole process and add meaningful living conditions to a family,” Pandeni told the House in seeking approval for his ministry’s budget allocation of N$447 476 000. According to the minister housing delivery, regional and local government, coordination of traditional authorities, decentralization and rural development will be the key focus areas for his ministry this year. “Among the most significant achievements so far has been the implementation of the national Build Together Programme as a decentralized entity of regional councils and local authorities. The programme aimed at the construction of individual houses, transformation of single quarters into better housing units, the construction of social houses for welfare cases and the provision of basic services for families living in informal settlement areas,” the minister informed the House. The minister blamed a number of factors for delays in the building of low-cost housing. “The process of housing delivery in the country has been slow due to lack of serviced plots in many local authority areas. The situation is worsening as a result of lack of financial resources. Furthermore, long distances from the suppliers of building materials, lack of transport and lack of commitment by builders often result in some houses taking more than 12 months to complete. Presently the housing backlog stands at 192 629 and projections indicate that the backlog will be 300 000 by 2030,” said Pandeni, who stated that an amount of N$6 billion would be needed to resolve the backlog for low-income housing by 2030. Pandeni gave the assurance that his ministry will continue to facilitate access to credit for the low-income people for the construction of houses, of which during the past year 1 926 had been built. “As far as infrastructure development is concerned, my ministry aims to upgrade it in old towns especially in those where the inhuman bucket system is still in place and needs to be replaced with the waterborne system. A case in point is Gibeon where more than N$9 million has already been spent to do away with the bucket system. A further N$10 million will be used to flush out the whole bucket system at the town during this book year,” Pandeni, who informed the House that the bucket system is still operative in places such as Kalkfeld, Stampriet, Tses, Aus, Warmbad, Ber-seba and Koes, said.
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