Berseba community unhappy with government housing

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While housing remains a big problem in Namibia especially for public servants in villages and small towns, some government houses are still occupied by people who no longer work for government.

BERSEBA – Berseba residents are bemoaning the Ministry of Works and Transport’s commitment to fixing the sewage systems of government properties including the schools in the village.

The community had a meeting with members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Human Resources and Social Development, who this week inspected government properties in the //Karas and Hardap regions.

According to Hulda Vries a teacher at the Kaitsi !gubeb Combined School the sewage system at the school has never been replaced since the school’s constuction almost thirty years ago. “Look when the school was renovated by the Ministry of Works and Transport four to five years ago they only painted the school and installed flush toilets. The old iron pipes underground are now really rusted and weathered that is why the water is seeping up from the ground. We have informed the ministry of several times,” Vries told the members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Human Resources and Social Development.

Vries also highlighted that accommodation for teachers in the town is not conducive to good living, a situation which makes it difficult for the school to retain teachers.

Paula Jaar, one of the occupants of the government houses spoke how her toilet has not been flushing for a while now, but because she was informed the government plans to renovate her house she stopped complaining.

Member of Parliament Lucia Witbooi then enquired from the Ministry of Works and Transport representatives present at the meeting, why prominent members of the community – such as principals – are given priority when it comes to renovations but ordinary civil servants have to wait for years for feedback.

“When you get a new principal it will not be an issue about whose line ministry is responsible, you will see the house fixed, but when an ordinary person complains it takes years for you to attend to their problems,” Witbooi alleged.

Robert Skeyer who represented the Ministry of Works and Transport during the meeting explained to the committee that at times renovating a building costs as much as a brand new building. He could however not explain, in response to a question, why new houses are then not built if that is the case.

“I do not know why new houses are not built.  But the thing is also that the people in the office look at the cost of renovations of government buildings and then say we must take off some items to make it cheaper. These things happen,” he explained.

However despite community members’ confirmation that only people currently in the employ of the government occupy the houses, New Era found the children of a retired cleaner living in one of the houses.

According to the 26-year-old Romeo Herero, son of Rebeka Goliath who worked as a cleaner at the Kaitsi !Gubeb Combined School until 2010, his mother lives on a farm while he stays with his siblings in the house.

Such complaint came in stark contrast to Skeyer’s notice that retired or transferred staff occupying government houses would be given only three months to vacate a house, whereas people with school children would be given time until the end of the year.

 

By Jemima Beukes

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