Works Saddled with Hefty Municipal Bill

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK People evicted from Government houses in Windhoek, where they have been squatting illegally, have left the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication with a huge municipal bill exceeding N$100 000 for water, refuse collection and power. According to Minister Joel Kaapanda, negotiations are underway between the City of Windhoek and his ministry to make the services available in order for the ministry to re-assign new tenants to avoid vandalism. Because of freeloading the ministry owes the City of Windhoek more than N$100 000. This amount according to Kaapanda will be settled in instalments, as the ministry cannot dodge this given that it has a constitutional obligation. The minister could not reveal how many houses in Windhoek have been abandoned. Government assets are currently valued at N$18 billion and according to Kaapanda, the ministry cannot afford to lose property worth billions. Through its “Operation Restore Hope” campaign introduced early this year, the minister says, the ministry will strive to restore integrity to government property. Currently, the public has lost confidence in government and its asset management style. Kaapanda revealed to New Era that most Government houses are deserted, and there is a great need to come up with a formula that will rid irresponsible behaviour in people presently living in government houses. In conjunction with the Ministry of finance, the ministry of Works, Transport and communication is considering reviewing the rent paid by those in government houses. “Government does not earn much from its property,” Kaapanda stated. He further indicated that his ministry would introduce what he termed “key deposit” system whereby a civil servant deposits a certain amount of money into the government account where rent has to go before they occupy the house. This, Kaapanda elaborated, would serve as a safety net should the tenant desert the property. “We want to cooperate with the municipality to monitor the behaviour of tenants. We need a proper system that will eliminate irresponsible behaviour out there,” the minister stated. Further, a list of tenants who abandoned the government houses will be sent to the ministry of finance and should it be found that these people have pension with institutions such as the Government Institution’s Pension Fund (GIPF), deductions will be made for the accrued water and electricity bills. The minister also expressed satisfaction with the rate at which data collection is taking place in the regions. Teams of young people were this year dispatched to the 13 regions of the country to collect data on households and entitlement to property. He added, “We designed three categories of forms: (1) for institutions, (2) private residence and (3) for undeveloped land.” As soon as the data collection is complete, an asset register will be compiled.

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