New dawn for Otweya residents
Rising from the ashes
12 September 2021 | Infrastructure
Nakatula Petrus, Beneficiary; “I am so happy because I’ve been living in ghettos…”
President Hage Geingob officially handed over houses to the residents of Otweya, formerly known as Twaloloka, on Friday.
The residents will finally move into their brick houses during the course of next week after more than a year of living in tents, braving the cold, sandstorms and rain.
The houses were built to the tune of N$43 million, with each house costing about N$59 000.
The one-bedroom with a toilet and open plan kitchen home is built on a 300m² erf to provide for expansion later on.
President Geingob, in his keynote address, said that the nation was shaken on 26 July 2020 when the devastating fire broke out at the Twaloloka informal settlement.
“An 18-month-old baby, Fillipus Mandha, lost his life and 174 residents were left homeless. Out of the ashes of those shattered dreams, hope is rising like a phoenix.”
The president requested that one of the streets in Otweya be named after the youngster, in his honour and memory.
Government declared the site of the tragedy as a disaster area and ensured that the affected people were provided with makeshift shelters, food, blankets, as well as assistance to recover national documents lost in the fire.
Geingob said that he was pleased, that after the tragic incident, he could partake in the handing over of the houses to the victims.
Erongo governor Neville Andre, suggested that the model for the construction of the houses at Otweya be considered in other regions to fast-track low-cost housing.
“The model is cheaper and quicker to deliver.”
The beneficiaries provided labour while the Shack Dwellers Federation provided technical skills to construct the houses, to meet the required standard of the municipality.
“The servicing of land, such as the water, electricity and sewage as well as landscaping was outsourced. Each house has an approved plan to accommodate an additional two bedrooms.”
The project resulted in the construction of 174 houses; 32 were funded under the Shack Dwellers Federation, assisted by Standard Bank under their Buy-a-Brick initiative. Central government funded 142 houses.
Andre elaborated on a number of delays experienced with regards to the project.
“Our initial plan was to hand over the houses in May. These delays were caused by technocrats at the municipality especially during the time when Mr. Muronga Haingura was on suspension. For every two steps we took forward, we took four steps back.”
He said it was also very disappointing to experience that this project was at times politicised by individuals.
“Central government addressed this matter from a humanitarian perspective but there were some people who used this disaster to gain political points.”
There were also individuals who instigated the beneficiaries to not accept the houses.
“These same individuals also approached our officials saying that if they are included on the beneficiary list, they will not disturb the finalisation of the houses. Thank you to the beneficiaries and officials for rejecting these tendencies.”
The governor implored the residents to add a backyard garden to their house and not a backyard shack.
Maria Iishuna (29) who was the first beneficiary to receive the keys to her home, said she is very excited to finally have her own house.
“I’ve been living at Twaloloka since 2015. I am so happy.”
Iishuna, who is a qualified diesel mechanic, lost her job due Covid-19, now owns a tuckshop.
President Hage Geingob and first lady Monica Geingos announced that they will be supplying furniture for Iishuna’s house.
Nakatula Petrus (35), who is a father of two children, have been living at Twaloloka since 2016.
“I am so happy because I’ve been living in ghettos as long as I can remember. It burned, then I moved to a tent and now a house. I am very excited.”
Simon Nambinga (38) says it feels very good that he can call himself a homeowner.
“I am happy, thank you to our government. My five children and I are very happy. They are very excited.”