By Charles Tjatindi WALVIS BAY The Omaruru Town Council has embarked on various projects in a bid to provide decent and affordable housing to residents. Part of the initiative is to build houses for a fraction of residents currently housed at the town’s Single Quarters. The project aims to eventually phase out the quarters, by relocating occupants to new housing units elsewhere at the town. Omaruru Municipality Chief Executive Officer, Werner Iita, confirmed to New Era on Tuesday that groups of families currently housed at the Single Quarters are preparing to occupy newly developed housing units at the town. The housing units were constructed through the Urban-Rural Build Together Programme, an initiative of the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development. Under the programme, the town council of Omaruru managed to complete 19 houses for its Single Quarters residents. According to Iita, the new occupants could move in by the beginning of next month already. “I can confirm that all logistics are in place for the new occupants of these units. All that remains now is to let the identified families move in, and shift the focus to the next phase of the project,” said Iita. Occupants of the new housing units have been identified and already endorsed by the town council at its last meeting in April, Iita added. The CEO noted that the town council is working on clearing one block of the current Single Quarters establishment by relocating its occupants to the new units, before embarking on the next block. Iita could not say how many more houses will be constructed but noted that the town council’s main aim is entirely to do away with the Single Quarters in its current form. “We will go as far as funds allow us, but our main aim is to demolish the current state of the Single Quarters. We would have reached our goal if all people currently accommodated at the Single Quarters are relocated to new and modern housing units,” explained Iita. The project, according to Iita, appeared to hit a snag a while back when a delay in providing the new houses with electricity was encountered. The delay, which according to Iita was mainly caused by the contactor, resulted in the newly-built housing units remaining idle and unoccupied for several months. The Build-together Programme has in the past also experienced various setbacks, as people put the funds allocated to them through the project to other uses. The Omaruru Town Council seems to have derived valuable lessons from other experiences with the programme, and opted to control the funds itself instead of releasing it to would-be occupants – a process that has so far produced the desired results. The town council recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) to further its efforts in addressing the housing shortage at the town. The MoU will pave the way for negotiations between the two parties on various means of addressing the problem. To kick-start the newfound relationship, NHE representatives will engage Omaruru communities in discussions regarding the company’s administrative procedures and requirements in obtaining housing. Omaruru is experiencing a severe housing shortage because available accommodation cannot meet the high demand. The influx of people to the town, especially through rural-urban migration, has for long been a major contributor to the situation.
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