Swakopmund — Residents of Arandis are questioning the wisdom of the town council's decision to sell 289 undeveloped residential plots and one business plot to two private developers for a combined N$2.5 million.
Council last Monday placed a notice in a national newspapers, announcing its intention to sell 289 erven situated in Extension 3 to Epitome
Holdings and one business plot to Ashy Trading Enterprise by way of private transaction.
Epitome Holdings will pay N$15 per square metre for the 289 plots - which roughly translates to N$1.6 million to council, while Ashy Trading will pay N$120 per square metre for the 7,000 square metre plot, that will cost them N$840,000.
Concerned residents told New Era that buying the serviced plots from the developers will be a challenge for them as the plots will be too pricy.
"This is what the government is warning us about, but yet they are allowing private developers to exploit us at the end of the day," one concerned resident said on Monday.
Florida Husselmann, the chief executive officer of Arandis Town Council, however, says they are not in any way going against the objectives of the Ministry Urban and Rural Development in terms of providing housing and serviced land for residents.
In fact, she says, council is promoting the vision of the line ministry, which is to ensure housing delivery.
"Accessing funds for the servicing of land has become a critical issue for most local authorities and as per the Local Authorities Act... , the Council is mandated to promote smart partnerships to ensure that land is delivered and serviced," she said.
According to Husselmann, the installation of municipal services is very costly and without substantial subsidies, council opted to offer land to developers that have the funding to service the land.
Husselmann further said council was indeed sensitive to the issue of speculation by developers and has built in sound performance clauses in the contracts to ensure the houses are delivered in an affordable range and with minimum risk to the town council and residents.
"In addition to this, council is at all times trying to balance the awarding of land between developers and its residents - and such allocations to the locals have been made. As far as commercial land is concerned, council needs to ensure that basic services are available and as such it approved the sale of land to Ashy Trading, who intends to construct a much-needed building material facility," she explained.
Husselmann noted that residents currently have to travel to Swakopmund to get building materials at additional cost, hence council is promoting investments that will have a positive impact on the town and its residents.
She added that the council is currently negotiating additional social responsibility contributions from the developers.
Furthermore, the town council had included a pricing threshold in the sales agreement to ensure development targets are met and residents are not exploited. The serviced land is to be reserved for Arandis residents and persons residing in Namibia that want to acquire land in Arandis, she said.