By Magreth Nunuhe
OKAHANDJA – Residents of Okahandja are up in arms over revelations that the town’s municipality sold 56 erven to a private developer for a paltry N$500 000 – averaging about N$9 000 per erf.
This is in sharp contrast to a minimum of N$60 000 that residents are charged for an erf at the town.
Private developer Dr Thomas Ihuhua got the beneficial treatment from the Okahandja Municipality in June 2011, details of which surfaced recently at the town.
A memorandum of agreement of sale of immovable properties, seen by New Era, was entered into between the municipality’s former acting CEO Ripanda Meroro and Valerie Aron, the town’s current mayor who was chairperson of the management committee at the time.
The agreement stipulates that the purchaser must within a period of five years provide and construct sewerage, water and electricity reticulation to the properties and that every building on the properties must have a value of not less than N$100 000, among other conditions.
Approached for comment, Ihuhua said he was surprised to hear of the sudden concern after so many years of being allocated the plot, which is almost at a point of completion in terms of its planned development.
He said the municipality invited developers to attend a meeting where four plots were made available at Extension 6.
“Tura Properties in its own right as a Namibian company attended. Those present were asked to apply for these plots and attach their credentials,” he explained, adding that the plots were almost of equal size and the prices were fixed and equal for all plots per square metre.
He said that Tura Properties succeeded in obtaining one plot measuring five hectares, while the other successful bidders were also given similar conditions and “no preferential therapy”.
“The amount per square metre was N$10 for all developers and this amounted to N$500 000 for Tura Properties,” he said, adding that the plots were not serviced and developers had to clear the bush and install basic services, such as sewerage, electrical connections and roads.
Ihuhua said the development runs into millions of dollars, which means that Tura Properties in fact bought the said plot with 56 erven for N$500 000, plus the millions spent on services.
“I assure you that is not a laughable price,” he said.
Asked about the land issue in the sleepy town, Okahandja Regional Councillor Steve ‘Biko’ Booys said there have been continuous calls for fairness in land allocation, which has fallen on deaf ears.
“ I don’t want to single out Dr Ihuhua, but it’s unfair that such big chunks of land are highly underpriced,” he said, adding that he has written letters to President Hifikepunye Pohamba, the Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, Charles Namoloh, and Otjozondjupa Governor Samuel Nuuyoma, to have an audience with them on the issue.
He said that last year he was part of a team that went to see the governor, where the latter apparently promised he would come back to them after three months, but twelve months down the line nothing has come of it.
“We are waiting for the President to pronounce himself on the issue,” Booys said.
On Monday, unhappy residents of Okahandja almost had a near violent confrontation with riot police in front of the Okahandja municipal offices over land.