Windhoek suspends auctioning of ervenBy: ROMANUS KONJORE
THE City of Windhoek has finally budged under pressure from the government and the public and suspended the auctioning of erven in the capital with immediate effect.
Mayor Agnes Kafula made this announcement at a City Council meeting on Wednesday.
“While we are engaging in discussions with our government on the amendment of relevant laws, the sale of land will now only be through private treaty and tender,” Kafula said to the applause of fellow councillors and those in the public gallery.
She also decried the shortage of serviced land in the city, saying that this could be attributed to rapid urbanisation, bureaucracy in the land approval process and lack of resources at the municipality’s disposal.
“It is unfortunate that an application for land, especially for a major development, takes more than a year to approve due to existing red tape in the approval process,” Kafula said, adding that the Namibia Planning Advisory Board (Nampab) did not meet regularly in the past, thus delaying development and job creation.
Many residents blame the municipality for a slow and ineffective land delivery system, which they say is deliberately keeping the demand for land high, artificially inflating prices and maximising revenue on land sales.
In 2011 the City raked in no less than N$220 million from selling land in and around Windhoek. At last year’s property auction, 234 erven (plots) were sold for a total of N$208 million. This resulted in a N$141 million – or 208% – profit.
The Windhoek Municipality made a further N$4,2 million from the sale of 21 erven through its Offer-to-Purchase system, and N$75 million from the sale of eight ‘residential block zoned’ (townhouse) erven.
On average, plots sold at the 2011 auction were 732 square metres in size, and the average price paid was just under N$890 000 per piece of land – amounting to N$1 224 per square metre.
The City Council expressed satisfaction with the progress made with a pilot programme aimed at providing low-cost housing to people currently living in informal settlements.
The council allocated selected erven to five construction companies – Namibia Jin Rijiu Housing Project, Eco Beam Construction cc, Keystone Development Solutions, Megumbo Accommodation Experts, Ino Investments and NamGreen Wood Enterprises – to build demonstration houses for low-cost housing in the Otjomuise residential area.
Beam Construction and Keystone Development Solutions have since been recommended for final assessment and the council is now awaiting the finalisation and submission of a technical assessment report.
It is not clear how many houses the municipality plans to build but former mayor Elaine Trepper said it was an ongoing exercise that would be done over a number of years.
Kafalo said the aim is to do away with informal settlements.
She also lauded the N$1.9 billion allocation by the Finance Ministry for housing development countrywide in the 2013/2014 national budget.
“We are hopeful that the city will also benefit from these national resources,” she said.