Grape workers to vacate fire-prone houses

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AUSSENKEHR – Reed houses for grape workers in Aussenkehr will soon be a thing of the past as progress is being made to provide decent housing for workers in the grape valley.
Karasburg Constituency Councillor Paulus Efraim told New Era the development of the town houses to which the workers are set to be relocated is well on track,

and a prefabricated house and office building have already been constructed as an example of the types of houses that would be built once construction starts.

Pointing to a demo house, Efraim said it was specifically built for the weather conditions of the area where it gets warm in winter and cool in summer.

The demo house comprises of two rooms and is a prefabricated all-weather structure.

He indicated that about N$250 million has been spent on the demarcation of the erven, water pipelines, a water treatment plant and sewerage system, adding that about 7 000 erven have been demarcated and linked to the sewerage system while 250 of those have been linked to water and electricity networks.

Efraim also praised some companies for coming on board to try and address the housing crisis their workers have endured over the years, singling out Cape Orchard Company, which has requested 1 000 erven for its workers and Namibia Grape Company which requested 300 erven to build houses for workers.

“It’s not fair that the projects are expanding but people live in harsh conditions,” said Efraim, referring to the fact that huge profits are made by these companies as they expand and increase their production output, yet workers live in deplorable conditions.

He said work is currently in progress by NamWater to make water available to the erven and once that is done the construction work should start, noting that this will help the workers a lot as the current reed houses are fire-prone and thus a risk to human lives.

A remorseful Efraim also expressed relief that the sewerage and water systems would be built as people are currently without potable water and ablution facilities. A worker who declined to be named for possible victimization narrated how people use the open field to relieve themselves because there are no toilets.

He said because their reed houses are closer to the river people relieve themselves along the river and this causes health risks.

He further complained that in addition to reed houses being fire-prone, thieves easily break in when owners are not around.

“When you come back from holiday you find your house open and sometimes you find faeces in your yard because people don’t want to go far,” he exclaimed.

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