By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Since the launch of an operation to eject those illegally occupying Government houses across the country, the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication has so far evicted eight freeloaders. The spokesman at the Ministry of Works, Julius Ngweda confirmed that 10 eviction letters were sent to illegal tenants in Windhoek. Eight of these have already left and the remaining two would leave any time soon. Ten similar letters were presented to illegal tenants at Katima Mulilo though they have not yet vacated the houses. “We are progressing very well. The teams were supposed to conclude the data collection exercise in the next three months but considering that some regions are vast, it might go beyond the proposed time,” he stated. Once the data collection process is complete, there will be a crosscheck done between the date of collection and what the files at the ministry contain. From that, the ministry will determine who is legal and not legal. Last year in July, the Works, Transport and Communication Minister Joel Kaapanda announced the ministry’s decision to rid all government houses of illegal tenants as part of its efforts to root out corruption within its ranks and to remedy the worrying state of affairs in the Fixed Assets Division that deals with government housing. Since then, the ministry has been involved in a covert operation with 100 teams dispatched throughout the country gathering information that would help determine tenant status. Kaapanda said most of these houses occupied by illegal tenants are in huge water and electricity arrears and the responsible town councils have cut these services. Currently, the ministry is negotiating with the City of Windhoek on the possibility of re-connecting the facilities so that the ministry can reassign the houses to new tenants. “We will have to agree and see how the ministry can settle the bills in instalments,” the minister stated. According to the minister, the government houses have been misused and vandalised by illegal occupants, depriving the government of very much needed revenue in terms of rent, which could be used to eradicate poverty among other pressing issues. The eviction of illicit tenants is in response to an executive order by President Hifikepunye Pohamba to the ministry to stop vandalism of Government houses and “…to move speedily to evict all illegal occupants from government flats and houses.” Though he could not spe-cify how many Government houses are presently occupied illegally due to the lack of a proper register for Government property, Kaapanda appealed to all illegal tenants to cooperate. It is hoped once the exercise is completed, bona fide civil servants would be accommodated in the free houses. It is also hoped that once the exercise is complete, it will bring an end to corruption and maladministration by some elements at the Ministry of Works who have over the years enriched themselves under questionable circumstances. The minister acknowledged that at the moment, the ministry does not have a credible asset register, hence it would embark upon setting up a well-preserved credible system that will help monitor and administer its assets. The occupants have also been advised to surrender the keys to the ministry. “The Government has lost its integrity in managing its property. We have no choice but to find ways of protecting such houses,” the minister said. The ministry is not only looking at addressing the issue of “abused” government houses but also through a campaign “Operation Clean Up” has auctioned some disposable items. The auctioning of police vehicles decommissioned because of lack of parts started in Windhoek yesterday.
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