Windhoek — Land grabbing in Otjozondjupa is threatening the stability of the region, the regional governor Otto Ipinge said.
"As leadership of this region we are duty-bound to ensure our communities are conducive by providing efficient and effective service delivery in all sectors. In so doing we will eliminate the risk of complaints - and demonstrations will be avoided," Ipinge said last week during his state of the region address.
Ipinge said Otjiwarongo, being Otjozondjupa's regional capital, hosts the biggest informal settlements, while the towns of Otavi, Okahandja and Grootfontein are battling to formalise their existing informal settlements, such as !Naruseb informal settlement in Otavi which has become congested. Ipinge said the situation has forced some people to occupy land illegally.
"When I visited these areas early this year I learned that councils are in the planning stages to relocate some residents to new informal areas and formalise these areas after database surveys have been concluded. Therefore, our residents in the region's respective urban centres are urged to be patient while we think of the best way to address their plight with limited resources at the disposal of our institutions," he urged.
Illegal informal settlements are not only a problem in Otjozondjupa, as it is being experienced countrywide almost everyday in urban centres.
This, Ipinge said, is an indication that rural and urban migration has taken centre stage.
"Our rural population continues to move into urban areas in search of better opportunities and a good lifestyle. As much as the expansion of the informal settlements in urban areas puts pressure on the limited resources of the local authority council to provide basic services such as water and sanitation, it is our duty to ensure that we start embracing evidence-based and statistic forecast planning methodologies in the establishment and later formalisation of such areas," he stressed.
He said this would allow town planners to prepare well in advance for the influx of people into urban centres.
Further, he encouraged affected urban centres to continue to hold information sessions to discourage people from grabbing land.
He noted infrastructural development is one of the pillars for economic enhancement and that over the period under review about 2,787 erven were serviced within all the respective local authorities across Otjozondjupa.
Ipinge says this is to tackle the issue of scarcity of serviced land as a response to the objective of residential land delivery of the social progression pillar in the Harambee Prosperity Plan.
According to him, this in turn will result in infrastructure development coupled with employment creation during housing development projects.
He said the region saw the servicing of Extension 9 for small and medium enterprise development, and there is the envisaged construction of 584 houses in Heroes Park and Freedom Park in Otjiwarongo, which will commence soon.
Further, another collaboration he mentioned is the construction of about 200 houses in Otavi, Extension 4 of which 64 have been finalised.
Other initiatives are the ongoing allocation of 73 mass housing development houses in Otavi and the construction of affordable houses by the Grootfontein Municipality and the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, and the servicing of 331 residential erven in Veddersdal, Extension 1.
Ipinge reported on the various new townships being planned in the respective towns with about 8,504 erven in the region, with Otjiwarongo planning to establish and service about 803 erven, Okahandja 3,000 erven, Grootfontein 1,496 erven, Otavi 3,150 erven, Okakarara 858.