New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: Ekandjo Warns Against Illegal Land Occupation

Ongenga — The Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, Jerry Ekandjo, has warned people against acquiring or occupying land illegally, saying this hinders efforts and plans to upgrade and develop settlements.

He made the remarks when he officially inaugurated the new N$1.8 million Ongenga Constituency offices in the Ohangwena Region on Saturday. "There are those who might do it out of ignorance, while others may be doing it with an idea of being compensated at a later stage," said the local government minister. He warned that the tendency will not be tolerated as land rights, whether for business or residential purposes must always be acquired through the proper channels and procedures outlined in the applicable laws.

The minister's warning comes in the wake of reports of illegal occupation of municipal plots by some members of the community, who allegedly want to benefit from the compensation exercise when developments are planned for some areas. The Ongenga Constituency offices, which will now serve as a conduit for developmental programmes and projects, will further improve the livelihood of each and every individual in that constituency Ekandjo said.

He said the offices, completed in August 2009 by Cascades Enterprises, will serve to reduce the distances residents have to travel to look for support and assistance. Ekandjo revealed that many development projects are currently underway in the constituency, such as the Ongenga Constituency Business Estate funded by the Ministry of Trade and Industry through the Namibia Development Corporation (NDC).

The planned business estate is expected to accommodate supermarkets, banks, a post office, open markets, private doctors' consulting rooms, light industries and a filling station.

"It is a clear manifestation of our government's commitment to enhance our people's lives by bringing services to where they are," he said at the event. He further commended residents who have agreed to be relocated elsewhere in order to pave way for the construction, which is in line with goal number two of NDP4 - to create employment during the construction phase.

Other developments in the pipeline for Ongenga are the upgrading of the Omungwelume Clinic, the renovation of Eengodjo Secondary School, the Ongenga Police Sub-Station which started to operate recently, as well as the upgrading of the oxidation pond in the Omungwelume settlement which will prevent the problem of environmental contamination by sewerage overflows during the seasonal flooding experienced in the area.

He also announced that the proclamation of the Omungwelume and Ongenga settlements alone dictate the need for new development, improved service delivery and upgrading of old infrastructure in order to prepare for their graduation into village councils, town councils and eventually municipalities. Ekandjo said the time for policy formulation had come and gone and it is now time for people to see and experience development in their areas, especially in the rural areas.

The Ongenga Constituency, like all other constituencies in this part of the country, had been deprived of development by the deliberate system of colonial oppression. It is one of the areas in the country that bore the brunt of the war and devastation perpetrated by the deposed South African racist regime.

The planning and surveying of Omungwelume and Ongenga settlements is currently underway, which will encompass the creation of 250 business and residential plots.

Ekandjo said that of the 81 residents of the Omungwelume settlement who benefited from the Build-Together programme only 73 succeeded in completing their houses, while eight failed and three never started anything.

"Those who failed to build houses despite having received the funds should be traced and compelled to refund the money or be dealt with accordingly," he added.

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