By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK Members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts yesterday praised government efforts to provide alternative building materials for the struggling housing sector in the country. A delegation of parliamentarians yesterday paid a visit to the Habitat Research and Development Centre on the outskirts of Katutura at the invitation of the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development. “It was a very informative and enlightening experience to visit the centre, which progress is encouraging taking into account that the centre has only been up and running for only three years. What is more encouraging is the fact that the centre experiments with numerous locally manufactured alternative products, which are not imported from South Africa. This is indeed a unique achievement,” said the chairperson of the committee, Johan de Waal, after the visit. The director of the centre, Jacques Korrubel, proudly informed the delegation about the centre’s achievements since it was established in 2003. “With our recycling and local materials, we are now in a position to provide space on 20 plots for local entrepreneurs to set up experimental projects in the house-building industry. We encourage local builders to come forward and work with us in the interest of building the country,” said Korrubel. He also informed the MPs that the centre’s main focus is to find alternative and cheaper materials to build durable houses for the many homeless people in the country. “Presently, we are working towards 80 000 homeless families in the capital and 300 000 more families countrywide. Thus far, our locally produced products are gaining momentum among most local authorities countrywide. We are working on a programme to loosen the many regulations to accommodate our alternative concept housing at cheaper rates. We are confident that we will eventually be successful to provide for the housing needs of the country by way of alternative materials,” the director said. The centre’s structure is basically built from recycled and locally produced materials, an idea of the then minister of housing, Dr Nickey Iyambo. “The committee has requested a list of all the locally produced products to provide it to all parliamentarians for further dissemination to the nation. Obviously, a lot of research on many products still needs to be done to achieve ultimate success with this project for the benefit of especially rural communities. In this, we want to encourage the private sector to get involved for this well-meant project,” said De Waal of the project, that will eventually cost the Namibian taxpayer N$20 million after completion.