//Kharas waits with bated breath on Aussenkehr housing plan

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Matheus Hamutenya

Keetmanshoop-//Kharas Governor Lucia Basson is hopeful the provision of decent housing to thousands of residents at Aussenkehr, who now live in reed houses, will soon become a reality.

//Kharas Regional Council has partnered with Cong Investment cc & Sun Namibia Group JV, Namibia Professional Service Solutions and Jacobs Engineering Company through a public-private partnership agreement to accelerate infrastructure development at Aussenkehr.

During her state of the region address last month, the //Kharas governor indicated that, once completed, the billion dollar development could provide housing to 40,000 residents in modern housing facilities.

Basson told New Era that she hopes the housing project will soon get off the ground and bemoaned the fact that residents of the farm – mostly grape workers – have lived in fire-prone reed houses for a long time. She said the need for decent housing cannot be overemphasised.

“Decent housing is very important for everyone, and that is what government wants. I would love to see this project become a reality, so that people can finally have something decent to call ‘home’,” she said.

Basson pointed out that although she could not specify by what means the houses would eventually belong to the workers’, she was hopeful the project would offer a solution to the longstanding problem at the grape farm and urged grape companies to position themselves so that their workers – especially those permanently employed – can benefit from the housing project.

The companies at Aussenkehr have in the past affirmed their commitment to providing housing for their employees. Namibia Grape Company managing director Gideon Nyuunyango in a telephonic interview recently reaffirmed this commitment.

Nyuunyango said the companies have been briefed about the project and were ready to be part of it to ensure their workers benefit from the houses that will be constructed. He said the main stumbling block to the provision of housing was the lack of services at the plots donated to the government some years ago, saying the process of bringing water and other basic services to the area has been slow.

“We are willing to provide housing to all our 200 permanent workers – of course not once-off, but gradually,” he said. He could, however, also not specify when the project would start and what financing model would be used for the companies to provide houses for their employees.

Leading politicians have in the past lamented the fact that the grape firms in the South – in a sector that will soon become a billion dollar industry – have been unable or unwilling to construct decent, brick-houses for their workers, despite generating millions of dollars from grape exports to North America, Europe and other lucrative markets.

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