City bosses want to build houses themselves

Mayor says PPPs are out

08 September 2021 | Infrastructure

Windhoek • [email protected]

The Windhoek municipality (CoW) has decided that from now on it will be doing things itself when it comes to land service and housing.
This was one of several outcomes of last week's week-long workshop for councillors discussing solutions to land and housing issues.
During a live broadcast from municipal chambers yesterday, mayor Job Amupanda set out the long list of performances on which the summit agreed.
“We decided to do it on our own,” Amupanda said about the City’s approach to new housing. Along with this, a name for the new urban level state-owned enterprise has already been reserved: Nova Actus Holdings. This business will be 100% owned by the City and will also include the establishment of several subsidiaries, of which the first will be set up within six months to tackle issues such as the land and housing shortage.
Through Nova Actus, council wants to saturate the demand for land and housing in the capital by breathing new life into delayed projects such as Goreangab Extension 4 and Otjomuise Extension 10. In Goreangab, council wants to take back the plots that were unused in the mass housing project from the Road Contractor Company (RCC), which was described by the mayor as “incompetent”.
In Otjomuise, the municipality plans to force the contractor to make completed houses available soon.
Amupanda says the capital will withdraw from public-private partnerships (PPPs) and investigate how to reclaim the value of the land in question. The arrangements associated with PPP relationships are problematic, Amupanda said, questioning why a one-off draft project led to ten different agreements.
“With PPPs, the obvious problem is that ‘tendertrepreneurs’ are sitting on the ground, in some cases since 2013 or 2017, and still nothing has happened. They have to pay. We have a problem because we cannot be delayed. We need speed,” he said.

Other models
Amupanda said the City will look for another model for PPPs, or another way to work together. In the meantime, the CoW will continue working with savings groups like the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN) and the National Housing Enterprise (NHE).
The City is also planning its own affordable housing program to meet the target of 600 homes by December through its partnership with the regional council, line ministry and NHE. Two hundred of these houses have been completed.
The Windhoek housing program plans to start on a small scale in Goreangab 4 by January 2022 and then expand to around 24 hectares in Cimbebasia to build 900 houses and establish municipal rent as a practice. N$22 million has already been budgeted for this in the financial year.
According to the municipality, houses worth between N$220 000 and N$350 000 will be built, with 70 in the first group. According to the City’s housing department, Windhoek wants to move away from the segregation of uniform values of houses in developments, to inclusive development for neighbourhoods with houses of various values.
Another subsidiary of Nova Actus will make proposals for financing to council, while the City is negotiating to write off old debt to the government of N$700 million, or to enter into an exchange transaction.
The municipality's financial executive, Jennifer Comalie, confirmed that the original loan was N$350 million.
There should also be talks about reforming local government management with the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, and about policies to control urbanisation, Amupanda said.

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