Residents of the informal settlement on the northern outskirts of Swakopmund say the municipality’s delaying tactics with the formalisation of the settlement is costly to residents of the area.
These sentiments were echoed by many after more than 80 residents of the informal settlement, which is home to the poorest segments of Swakopmund society, were left homeless by three shack fires within one week. The residents also appealed to Swakopmund Council to speed up the formalisation process or any other plans they have for the settlement, so that people can get access to proper housing, electricity and better sanitation facilities.
“It seems like we are forgotten, but we are still here facing the same social challenges,” a number of DRC residents said in unison when asked about their situation by New Era on Thursday.
When this reporter visited the scene in the aftermath of one of the shack fires, disappointment and sadness clouded the area, as many residents had lost everything and were at the mercy of good Samaritans.
The devastating shack fires destroyed three shacks in DRC on Thursday, 19 in Mondesa on Wednesday and another 22 the previous week also in Mondesa.
Speaking to New Era on Thursday, DRC resident and shack fire victim Selma Eibes said she lives in constant fear. “One minute you have shelter, the next minute all is gone. That is life in the DRC. Many of us are not at home when such fires occur. Maybe that is fate,” she lamented.
Eibes then explained to New Era that starting over after one has lost everything is the hardest part. “I wish that I had a decent job and could at least afford a better place to live with my children. I now have to gather material and try and build a decent shelter for my children. How will I do that? I don’t know, she said sadly.
When contacted about the challenge of delivering affordable and decent housing for the DRC residents, Governor of Erongo Region Cleophas Mutjavikua said his office and the municipalities of Swakopmund and Walvis Bay are working on a concept that will soon bring relief and enable the residents to move out of the current ramshackle housing structures they occupy in DRC.
“We will also create a new suburb for very low-income residents adjacent to DRC and will use alternative non-flammable material to construct houses. We will be required to construct our own houses, as per municipal specifications and building control measures. Towards the end of this year we will be somewhere and a difference will be seen,” he said.