Public-private partnerships needed to address housing

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Alvine Kapitako

Windhoek-The mayor of Windhoek, Muesee Kazapua, maintains that public-private partnerships with private estate developers are the only feasible solution to the housing problem facing the city.

He was responding yesterday to questions from New Era on the long-term solution to housing in the capital city, following an incident where 15 shacks were gutted by fire in the early hours of Sunday. The fire broke out in Otjomuise’s 8ste Laan informal settlement.
“The problem we have is an influx of people, which contributes to illegal shack erections,” said Kazapua.

Kazapua said the formalization of informal settlements, by providing basic services such as water, electricity and sanitation to people in informal settlements, would be another way to deal with the housing problem in Windhoek.

“The vision is to make sure we construct proper houses,” added Kazapua.
The mayor cautioned shack dwellers to be cautious when dealing with candles, fires and gas cylinders as these contribute to shack fires.

Kazapua said the municipality regularly conducts campaigns in which they educate the public and especially shack dwellers on how to prevent shack fires.

“The city is concerned about shacks constantly burning in Windhoek,” Kazapua said.
Meanwhile, New Era visited the families whose shacks were gutted by fire.

“We put water on the stove to bath and then went to lie down. While we were lying down we fell asleep and when we woke up the shack had unfortunately caught fire,” said Selma Shandius, whose shack was where the fire started.

She said the T-shirt she wore had caught fire but “I felt it quickly” – and that is when she and her roommate evacuated the shack. The shack dwellers, both young and old, yesterday gathered at the scene of the fire to find ways to rebuild their lives.

“We lost everything. There was no time to rescue anything. Fortunately no lives were lost,” said 60-year-old Anna Pieters.

The families are now squatting with their families and friends who live nearby.
They told New Era they had received donations in the form of rice and one blanket per household from Khomasdal North constituency office.

“I felt very painful but I must also understand the other people’s pain (sic),” said a very emotional Naftali Mushendo, 32, who is employed as a police officer at the police’s emergency response unit.

“I lost everything – my police uniform, my marriage certificate and other documents. Even the clothes I’m wearing are borrowed,” said Mushendo, who was on duty at the time of the fire.

Zinc, refrigerators, mattresses, beds, clothes, books, documents, bank statements and kitchen utensils were some of the items seen damaged when New Era arrived at the scene. The shack fire victims appealed for assistance to help them rebuild their lives.

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