WINDHOEK – Housing minister Charles Namoloh admits that the country’s ambitious mass housing scheme faces a multitude of challenges, but says government is determined to make it a success.
“Some call it the ‘mess housing’ project. Yes it might be (a) mess now, but where do you start a programme without bottlenecks and challenges?” he asked during a press conference this week.
Namoloh said that even scientific projects fail and questioned why the mass housing project would be any different.
“Mass housing is not in a mess, but in mass,” he said, adding that so far 1 214 ‘social’ houses have been constructed through the scheme and 194 were handed over to beneficiaries in Mariental, Walvis Bay and Oshakati.
He explained that the social houses were constructed for low-income groups and while construction material is very expensive, government is subsidising owners with 60 percent or lower for the total price of the house according to income.
“We want to build more houses,” he pointed out, saying that although some are advising government to rather invest money in servicing land, the ministry is adamant that providing housing is the way to go.
Namoloh said “we could shorten the span of time in which houses are built if we could get more funds instead of the 18 years planned to build 185 000 houses”.
Government has invested N$45 billion in the mass housing project and entrusted the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) to contract local companies to see to the actual construction of houses.
He said local companies must lead in the project so that by the time the N$45 billion dollar initiative is complete, they would stand on their own feet. “As we speak today 23 companies have been contracted to build houses,” he added.
Namoloh said “our society does however not have the skills and the capacity to build these houses in the shortest possible time and local authorities have had to bring in experts, such as quantity surveyors and engineers from Cuba and elsewhere to assist”.
“Support us on mass housing,” he urged, adding that some media was giving negative reports about the project while some people were making false accusations that every housing project that collapses is a result of the initiative.
The minister said that they want to build Matutura (a place where we want to live) and not Katutura, which means “we do not want to live there”.