Namibia: Tired of Waiting

THE need for land at Walvis Bay remains one of the biggest challenges the council faces.

The town has more than 6 000 shacks in Kuisebmond township and Twaloloka informal settlement while families at Naraville live in overcrowded garages and flats.

A few metres from Twaloloka informal settlement a mother and her four children share a tent on an empty erf which she and four other street vendors illegally occupied three months ago.

Martha Simenda (45) a mother of five and guardian to her late sister's daughter was evicted from a shack they had rented since 2000. The landlord allegedly chucked her out because her family was too big.

"She started off by rationing water. We would only get six 25-litre containers per week for cooking, bathing and laundry," she claimed.

Next to her tent is one of Hilma Teofelus who was evicted by her uncle from a shack she rented for N$1 000 a month.

"My uncle told me to vacate the shack because he was selling it. I asked to buy it but he told me he already had a buyer," she explained.

Teofelus and Simenda said they asked the Twaloloka committee for permission to erect temporary shelter but they were turned down.

Olga Birisamub the chairperson of Twaloloka committee said she was not aware of their predicament and that they must have approached the wrong people.

"I only came to hear of their plight recently. They are welcome to see me so that I can hear them out," she said.

During the three months they have been camped there, the mayor Trevino Forbes occasionally visited them. He said besides giving them food and blankets, he also gave them start-up capital to revive their businesses.

TIRED OF WAITING

About three kilometers away at Narraville, 1 300 members of the Shackdwellers Federation of Namibia are waiting for the contractor to build access roads. There are 68 erven allocated to the group in 2009. Tired of waiting, last week they threatened to erect shacks on their erven, although they are not serviced.

Juliana van Wyk, the group's chairperson said it is taking so long for the construction of their houses to start.

"Our people are in a tight spot. Landlords want their rent from our members, most of whom have had salary cuts and some lost their jobs. It is better to erect shacks on our land and use the rent money toward the installation of services," she said.

Van Wyk says 1 300 members had joined the federation but they will have to wait for land until the 68 houses have been built.

Scrambling for land

On Friday over 200 people bid for 12 residential erven at Kuisebmond at an auction. These are part of the 81 erven that were sold in Kuisebmond and Meersig.

The municipality's acting chief executive officer Frans !Gonteb explained that the process was short, simple and very transparent.

"No one could stand in as a proxy for anyone because the erven must remain in the buyer's name for five years before the person can sell," he said.

The erven were sold to first-time buyers and chance takers will be disqualified once the municipality verifies with the deeds' office.

The 16 erven in Meersig not taken up and will be sold later. Walvis Bay has very little land left as most if it is private property and the Dorob National park which belongs to the government.

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