Shacks proliferate among Keetmanshoop mass houses

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Matheus Hamutenya

Keetmanshoop-Despite impassioned appeals by Minister of Urban and Rural Development Sophia Shaningwa that shacks not be erected in the backyards of houses built under the government’s mass housing scheme, corrugated-zinc huts have become commonplace in the yards of such houses at Keetmanshoop.

The ministry and the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) have clearly given instructions to the beneficiaries of what has become known as ‘mass houses’ not to erect shacks once they receive their house, but all this seems to have fallen on deaf ears as more and more shacks are being erected at the mass houses, day by day.

NHE’s senior communication and marketing officer Mutonga Matali derided the fact that the beneficiaries of the mass houses are cashing in on the shortage of housing by setting up shacks in their backyards, despite crystal-clear instructions to the contrary.

Matali said NHE’s stance against the setting up of backyard shacks remained unchanged because the government wants to put an end to the mushrooming of shacks that have become part of the urban landscape.

“That is still our position – we highly discourage any recipient of these houses to erect shacks. The government is trying hard to eliminate shacks but it seems our clients are countering those efforts,” he said.

But Matali, who was in Keetmanshoop on Monday to hand over another batch of completed houses, indicated he is happy with the overall progress of the mass housing programme, and that 75 houses would be handed to their owners by Friday.

He further said NHE is committed to ensure that all completed houses are occupied as soon as possible and called on new homeowners to do their part in paying their monthly instalments, to ensure more revenue is generated and subsequently more houses are built.

“We urge recipients to do their part and honour the commitment to their home loans, so that we can build more houses.”

Speaking to some of the recipients who have set up shacks in their yards, they indicated they are left with no choice but to accommodate family members who want access to clean water and electricity, while some indicated they had to set up shacks as the houses are too small to shelter all their family members.

David Nakambale, who received a two-room house last year, has four shacks in his yard. He said that due to the limited space in the main house, other family members had to erect shacks, noting that three of the shacks are used for accommodation, while one serves as a tuck shop.

“The space is limited and all my family members cannot fit into the house, so some had to erect shacks outside,” he said.

The 75 houses to be handed over this week will bring the total number to 150 out of the 320 houses to be built at Keetmanshoop.

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