9 February 2018

Namibia: Low-Cost Houses for Grootfontein Squatters

Omuthiya — Thousands of Grootfontein residents squatting at the country's only remaining single-quarters complex, a pre-independence living quarters for labourers, will soon be relocated once the Grootfontein Municipality finalises its plans to relocate them to cheaper houses.

The single-quarters complex has 400 rooms and more than 1,000 people are believed to be residing there.

Residents will be offered low-cost houses, while those that cannot afford the houses will be moved to an earmarked informal settlement where they could set up their own structures.

Land for this purpose has already been secured.

"Council has already earmarked another area where people from the single quarters can be accommodated and the municipality will service the area," Grootfontein Mayor Abisai Haimene said in a telephonic interview with New Era.

"We certainly want to improve the living conditions of our people by providing water, shelter and sanitation, but there is a challenge of high rural-urban influx, which makes it difficult to improve the informal settlements. The influx is exacerbated by people that are evicted from nearby farms coming to town to squat," added Haimene.

To resolve the problem, Haimene says, a reception area will be developed where such people can be quartered. The area is yet to be cleared.

Haimene cautioned the community to guard against vandalism of municipal services such as taps and sewage drainage, adding that it has been a culture of residents to steal the steel covers of drains, which they sell at scrapyards.

"That tendency must end - whenever adults steal the steel tops, the kids throw objects into the holes, which blocks the drainage and creates a health hazard, and is certainly becoming costly to repair, over and over," he said. He added that educational campaigns would be conducted to sensitise the

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