Namibia: Local Firm Has Answer to Shacks

A local furniture company has proposed that local authorities consider using non-flammable fibre cement nutec boards to build low-income housing.

Kobus van Schalkwyk of Waterbay Woods and Joinery erected a model house opposite Twaloloka to show the possibilities available to fill the gap in low-cost housing and reduce the risks of shack fires.

"The initiative was to find a lasting solution for the community especially those living in shacks and the low income earners to have decent shelter at an affordable rate," said Van Schalkwyk.

He added that setting up such structures can ensure that six months, shacks would be a thing of the past in Walvis Bay.

"A house like this with a concrete floor costs plus minus N$30 000 but the cost will increase with additional finishes such as shower and plumbing. The structures can be set to suit an individual's needs from a bachelor room, one bedroom up to three bedrooms," he explained.

According to van Schalkwyk, these structures have a life span of up to 20 years. The fibre cement boards are also used for ceilings and partitioning and are available at hardware stores.

The residents of Otweya and surroundings came to see the model house and expressed satisfaction with the structure.

"I like the house and yes I can afford it, if we pay in instalments through the municipality. The banks will not even consider a personal loan application because these are not permanent structures and we don't have collateral," said Otto Shishiiveni whose shack was destroyed last Sunday.

"As long as the houses come with water and electricity I am happy. That is our biggest challenge. As for the cost I don't see why it should be a problem. Our immediate need is land and that is what brought us to Twaloloka," said Joolokeni Johannes.

Erongo governor Neville Andre on Sunday led a delegation comprising the Deputy Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Derek Klaasen and the mayor of Walvis Bay Immanuel Wilfried to the prototype house.

"We are trying to take the people out of the congested neighbourhoods. This is a project that is viable and it is better than how the people were living. We have engaged the central government on this initiative that is why we asked the company to set up this protype to give a feel of how the houses will look," said Andre.

The mayor of Walvis Bay said the council is considering similar structures for Farm 37 and will deliberate on the issue this week.

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