Opuwo frustrated by illegal housing construction

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Clemans Miyanicwe
Opuwo

The mushrooming of the illegal construction of houses is a huge concern for the Opuwo Town Council. This was revealed by Richard Urikee Tjazapi, the chairperson of the Opuwo Town Council, during an interview with New Era on Monday.

The inhabitants were warned against erecting buildings and structures without permission of the town council. Business people are said to be constructing flats at the town without the council’s approval and on unserviced land.

“It’s frustrating as people build houses anyway they want. The situation is out of hand but we are sensitizing the communities through community meetings about the issue,” a concerned Tjazapi said.

He said the situation was so out of control that some people even construct structures during the night.

“When you wake up in the morning a house which was not there yesterday is standing,” Tjazapi revealed.

He said that if people want to construct houses they must consult the town council and build houses according to council regulations.

The mushrooming of illegal structures is due to people migrating to Opuwo from nearby villages in search of greener pastures. Opuwo is the regional centre of Kunene Region.

“Almost everyday people are coming to Opuwo. This place is ideal to begin a new life but people end up building illegal structures due to lack of housing.”

The previous councillors are said to have sprayed the sign ‘remove’ on the shacks that were constructed illegally and gave a grace period to people to take down the structures.

“If we (town council) are lenient it will give us a problem in the future. We must deal with this issue,” Tjazapi warned. Most houses were however approved by the previous council.

New Era was informed that a committee of two people, who will be volunteers, will be set up for Katutura, Orutjondja and Otuzemba locations from next month to identify illegal structures and report them to the town council.

Residents were also advised to inform the town council of any illegal constructions.
Tjazapi blames the previous council for the mushrooming of illegal structures due to no formal plan having been in place for housing but said the current councillors have implemented a strategic plan that feeds the needs of people.

“Housing is dear to us and we want to construct between 400 and 600 houses. The town council has planned the construction of houses for low-income people next to Otuzemba location (Extension 2) on the eastern side of Mbumbijazo Muharukua; these houses will include Build Together Programme houses and those of Shack Dwellers groups.

Extension 7 and 8 houses will be financed through banks and will be for middle-income groups. The council held meetings last November and early this year to seek public-private partnerships and have selected companies they will work with, but they need the approval of the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development.”

Residents who are informally residing in the areas planned for the construction of houses will be moved to a new reception area nearby Katutura and will be given first choice to buy houses once they are done.

“But if you cannot afford to buy the house then you will remain at the reception area,” Tjazapi said.

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