Unlike in the past when Emona private hostel struggled to fill rooms due to high fees, more University of Namibia (Unam) students have taken up residence in the hostel. The students say they have little alternative as rental fees are equally exorbitant in and around Windhoek.
The Unam student representative council (SRC) has lobbied for a while to have the hostel fees reduced. However, the company that constructed the first private student accommodation for N$80 million with the idea to serve Unam, Hanganeni Emona Investments, has dismissed any possibility of changing its fees, despite many rooms still vacant.
A New Era investigation revealed that more than 1 000 students now stay at the hostel, which has 1 150 rooms.
Students pay between N$2 100 and N$2 300 per month for rent per person sharing.
Unam students, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they opted for Emona as accommodation is very costly in Windhoek.
“It is actually a 50/50 situation. It is expensive but under the circumstances you don’t get a place with refrigerators and stoves as well as beds for this price. We also save since we don’t have to take a taxi. One can also not deny that land is expensive in Namibia, but the price is still high for us students,” one student lamented.
Another said most of them come from the north and don’t have any family members in Windhoek. Hence they have little choice but to pay the hostel fees.
“The rooms are now full, the situation improved from last year. The rent also goes up 10 per cent every year. The place is well maintained and the security is good, since we have fingerprint access,” said a student.
The students however complained about privacy since they have to share rooms.
Unam spokesperson, John Haufiku, said the university cannot regulate hostel fees at Emona.
“Unam was consulted and there was an agreement in terms of how much they can charge. However, this is not a Unam facility. The agreement we entered was to address a pressing need and the charges are commensurate with what the industry currently charges. Right now we just want to make sure that students have a safe environment while they study,” he said.
The company’s managing director, Braam Vermeulen, earlier said part of the contract clearly says if rooms are not filled by Unam students, students from other institutions may also be accommodated.
A luxury and privately run hostel, Emona offers a TV lounge and relaxation areas, communal bathrooms and kitchens fitted with granite counter tops.