Geingob reaches out to Windhoek shack dwellers

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Windhoek

President Hage Geingob yesterday called on the Windhoek Municipality to ensure that the thousands of city inhabitants currently living in shacks are properly settled.

On Monday afternoon Geingob traversed the city from Goreangab through Otjomuise and up to Cimbebasia, together with municipal officials, to assess the availability of land in and around the capital. Informal settlements in the capital are home to over 100,000 residents.

In view of the dire situation the president said government might have to expropriate farms in the surrounding areas to meet the growing demand for housing.

Municipal officials were urged by the president to ensure that a database is set up with the full details of those currently occupying land illegally to ensure they can return to their plots once the areas have been serviced.

Geingob told City officials: “The people who are settled without proper arrangements must be well-accommodated.

Take their names before moving them and assure them that they will be returned to their plots once decent houses have been built.”

Asked where the shack dwellers would be moved to in the interim, he said “That is something we still have to work on.”

During an impromptu press conference following the two-hour tour, Geingob said: “We have to address the question of squatting. This can be done by providing similar services in the rural areas, otherwise people will continue coming to the city.”

Geingob reiterated Friday’s call to the public to voluntarily assist during the Massive Urban Land Servicing Project through which government plans to service 200,000 plots. “The volunteering should be similar to that we did on the railway project in the north and [should be done] in an orderly manner. People must come together so that we can do everything properly,” he said.

Regarding the shortage of land available for servicing, Geingob said bluntly that land should be availed at all costs – even if it means extending the city’s boundaries, or through expropriation.

“We are looking around for land, we may even have to extend Windhoek’s boundaries or buy some farms, but nobody will cheat us when it comes to prices,” he said.

When City of Windhoek officials met Geingob for a consultative meeting at State House last week, Mayor Muesee Kazapua said there are about 2,000 hectares of unserviced land available across the city.

Regarding inflated land prices, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said: “The escalation of prices is because of the asking price of intermediaries. One of the undertakings made by the youth activists is to mobilise young professionals to avail their services [voluntarily]… and we expect that to reduce the prices of land.”

The prime minister also called on Namibians to offer their services on a voluntary basis whenever the country is faced with a crisis, instead of always being profit-driven.

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