Otweya residents finally move from tents to houses

Relocated

01 November 2021 | Infrastructure

Asnath Kangandi; Resident; “We are so happy… Tonight we are going to sleep in our house…”

Walvis Bay • [email protected]

It was a joyous occasion at the Otweya settlement when 50 residents moved into their homes today (Monday).

The Otweya settlement was established after a fire ripped through the then Twaloloka settlement, destroying 153 homes and claiming the life of a one-year-old boy. Fifty residents, with the help of volunteers and the Walvis Bay fire brigade, moved on Monday. This group will be followed by another fifty moving on Tuesday while the remaining residents will be resettled on Wednesday.

One of the residents, Asnath Kangandi could not contain her joy. “I am so happy. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Finally, we are moving! Tonight, we are going to sleep in our house; I cannot contain my joy.” Ebenardine ‘Ousie Babsie’ Gawes, praised government. “We are so happy. Thank you to our government, thank you, thank you.”

Ephraim Kathindi, a fire officer, said that a meeting was held last week with the committee to finalise the list of the beneficiaries. “The municipality has mobilised resources like trucks, to assist with the moving process. Each household has to pack their belongings which is moved to the new house where the owner receives his or her key as well as the contract. Volunteers on site dismantle tents, which will be cleaned, disinfected and stored for when it is needed again. Our hope is to have this area totally cleared by Wednesday.”

The acquisition of the land on which the houses were constructed still poses a conundrum and initially prevented the owners from moving. The land belongs to the NHE and government is locked in negations with the entity to secure the land. The question is if the NHE will donate or sell the land. The latter option will see the price of the houses being pushed up. A technical committee is negotiating with NHE about the land the houses are built on, as NHE needs to decide whether they will sell or donate the land to government.

Hiccups

Unfortunately some individuals wanted to dampen the joyous atmosphere at the Otweya, with claims that the beneficiary list has been rigged. Florian Donatus Tegako, rural constituency councillor, lost his composure and wanted to suspend the moving process. “I am tired of hearing accusations from all over. People are just being taken from the streets and put on the list. We cannot have a national project, and an ordinary committee wants to overrule - even the councillor. Who will be accountable for this mess? I will not tolerate it!” According to Tegako, the Otweya committee with some other officials are trying to change the list. “We had a meeting last week to sort out these issues. The list that was approved last week is not the same list as today. When are we going to run things smoothly without any corruption? We have people that lost their belongings but that are being replaced by people who have lived in a ghetto two or three days before the fire. It is not fair!”

Raymond Peterson, from the ministry of works and transport, who is also the project manager of the new houses, stated that the allegations regarding the list are not true. “An approved resolution stated that houses will be built for fire victims and not for people who rent or sell their shacks to someone else. People came forward claiming properties to be their own, while it was not.”
Peterson said that the list was compiled according to the occupation certificates that were handed to the fire victims. “The additional people that were added to the list were people left out because of people who received houses; who were not fire victims from the federation’s side [sic]. The 21 additional houses built were for home owners who were not present at the time of the fire, due to being truck drivers or locked down in other regions.” Peterson said that the list that was compiled was in accordance with the resolution by the disaster risk committee from parliament.
“No one was removed unfairly or put on the list who does not belong there. If you had people residing with you at the time of the fire, it means the owner of the ghetto received the certificate for their house. Thus, when you move, you need to take the people with you whom resided with you.” According to him, this is where the discrepancies are coming in. “People from one shack want four houses, one for each. We worked strictly in accordance to the resolution made.”

Otweya residents are responsible to connect their electricity, which is a once off payment of N$520 and their water connection (pre-paid meter) of N$3 468.64 which can be paid over 12 months.
In a previous interview with Erongo 24/7, Donatus explained that the payment modality of the house has been established as N$316.32 each month for a period of 15 years, which is roughly N$40 000 in total with a 5% annual interest rate.

Prepaid water meters have been installed, while the provision of electricity is anticipated to be completed by March next year.

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