Africa > Southern Africa > Namibia > Namibia: Shrinking Pohamba's Housing Dream

Namibia: Namibia: Shrinking Pohamba's Housing Dream

2015/08/14

The government is preparing to technically bury former president Hifikepunye Pohamba's N$2,9 billion housing dream and replace it with a small-scale low-cost housing scheme.

Launched in the last months of Pohamba's reign, the project was seen as the former president's legacy but it has been marred by controversy. The programme was supposed to make available 10 000 houses by next year and 180 000 by 2030.

But like a lot of top government projects, mass housing failed to meet the target, managing to build less than 2 000 houses. This is considered a drop in the ocean considering that Namibia has a national backlog of over 140 000 houses.

Urban minister Sophia Shaningwa admitted that the programme will be revamped but denied that it will be scrapped.

The Namibian understands that government will have to renegotiate with contractors and will have to fork out N$330 million for the houses built since last year.

Sources have however said the government has no budget for the mass housing programme.

The national as well hopes to recoup over N$100 million by asking contractors that received mass housing contracts to lower their asking price per square metres.

"The mass housing programme will continue but with a different approach," she told The Namibian yesterday. "The project is the legacy of our former President Hifikepunye Pohamba. We are not stopping it."

Shaningwa, who suspended the programme and ordered a probe into pricing, has been on record accusing the National Housing Enterprise of failing to implement the project.

Although it is not clear whether the findings of the investigations will be made public, The Namibian obtained the document compiled by Richard Frankle & Partners Quantity Surveyors.

The findings, based on the mass housing project in Erongo region, concluded that the rates charged by the companies that were given the tenders were generally market-related.

"However, certain rates claimed in the schedules of rates are above market-related rates. The usage of these rates for variations is a noted concern as this could have been an oversight at tender adjudication," the statement said.

The surveyors advised the national to pay Pro Housing because the arrangement is near completion and that the contractor should address the outstanding minor issues.

Pro Housing that has built 80 houses at Henties Bay for N$17,4 million, is owned by Paul and Helen Ockhuizen. The surveyors as well warned that the ownership of houses needs to be addressed.

However, the statement castigated the Delta Group for lack of evolution, saying the work does not match the all the government paid.

"Based on our site visit, data provided and costing, it is of our view that the alternative building method is not an option, the slow evolution on site does not justify this building method," the surveyors said.

The surveyors recommended that government should pay Paulo Shipoke's Power Oyeno, presently suing the government for N$100 million, was contracted to build over 2 000 houses. They further recommended that municipal services should be installed before the houses are handed over.

"In next, it would perhaps be better to award additional contracts to various contractors which would have a smaller scope," the evaluators said, adding that the large number of houses given to one company is difficult to supervise and is evident from the lack of quality control at sites.

Meanwhile, Cabinet has approved plans that those who "misappropriated funds or inflated prices are brought to book".

NHE bosses have been accused of dishing out inflated mass housing contracts to friends and relatives, while ignoring former local government minister Charles Namoloh to re-negotiate the tenders last year.

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