25 February 2013

Namibia: National Assembly Calls for Overhaul of Housing, Transport Sectors

A PARLIAMENTARY standing committee on human resources, social and community development has recommended a total overhaul of the housing and public transport sectors in the country.

In a report tabled in the National Assembly (NA) yesterday, the committee said Namibia lacks credible data on the housing backlog, liberally put at 92 000 houses, while the transport situation poses a national hazard.

The 10-member committee was tasked by the NA to consult with national stakeholders in the provision of housing and transport after the House had considered a motion by All Peoples' Party (APP) parliamentarian Ignatius Shixwameni in July 2010.

Shixwameni tabled a motion to debate the housing and transport conditions of urban workers in the country.

The committee wants a moratorium placed on the purchasing of houses by foreigners while first-time buyers should not always be expected to acquire erven through auctions by municipalities.

The government is also called upon to encourage people to use alternative building materials such as clay, as currently most materials are imported from South Africa at great cost.

"To reach the people in need, there is a need for government to shift its focus of encouraging home ownership by initiating alternative ways of providing houses to the poor such as rental housing and rent-to-buy schemes," the reported stated.

Financial institutions are also encouraged to design tailor-made financing schemes for people in the low- and middle-income groups, while information dissemination should be improved.

The committee further recommends that financial and staff assistance to local authorities should be improved as they play a crucial role in the provision of essential services such as housing.

The works and transport ministry is urged to be more involved in the provision of transport at local authority level through rendering of technical and financial support.

Major local authorities such as Windhoek and Swakopmund are advised to encourage the use of bicycles with the provision of cycling lanes, while traffic offenders should be held accountable, the report said.

In probably a first for the country, the committee recommends that quicker transport in the form of express trains should be considered for transportation of daily commuters from Rehoboth and Okahandja to Windhoek, in order to reduce the load on the roads and reduce accidents.

Stakeholders that were engaged included the City of Windhoek, the Shack Dwellers' Association of Namibia, the National Housing Enterprise, the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and the Namibian Employers' Federation.

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