We were skeptical to give people land - Derek Klazen

Former Walvis Bay mayor and deputy minister of Urban and Rural Development, Derek Klazen, said that his office was initially not keen to give people land fearing that it would result in a further rise in the number of shacks.

The minister was speaking in his capacity at a stakeholder engagement on the problems of housing in the capital where researchers argued that Namibia’s housing crisis was a crisis for land.  

“In the ministry, me and my former minister, Comrade Sophia Shaningwa, we were very skeptical of giving people land because the need of housing is so much and if I look at Walvis Bay, we have backyard squatters there. Now imagine, if you give a person a piece of land of 300m2, he is putting a kambashu of 8m2 on that 300m2. That is a worrisome factor,” he said.

The deputy minister said this phenomenon has risen because shacks have also become a source of income for many who end up living lavish lifestyles from rental proceeds. 

“The more shacks they hire out the more income (they get). Some don’t need to work because they make money. You can live a lekker lifestyle. So that is something I put  a question mark on you know. Hailing from Walvis Bay I know, the people, they really need houses,” he said to a giggling audience.

Klazen also poured cold waters on lobbied suggestions that alternative building material were part of the answer to solving the housing backlog saying that those that his office roped in to build ended up dumping the projects running after bigger projects with conventional materials.

He also indicated that communities were also not in favour of such.

“There is no interest in these alternative building materials from the community side. These alternative building methods, it’s not to say it’s cheaper because after they did it (in Walvis Bay)  they found out that it’s not really cheaper,” he said.

Meanwhile, Namibia’s housing outlook looks quite chilling and with the erection of shacks outpacing that of brick houses, experts predict that there will be over half a million urban shacks by 2030.

In these, roughly two million people are estimated to live.

Latest research has observed that, “The proliferation of shacks is concurrent with a steady decline in households occupying traditional dwellings.”

The Namibia Inter-censal Demographic Survey (NIDS) indicates that as of 2016, 26.6% of households in the country resides in shacks.  

“This is a highly disconcerting statistic since it demonstrates not only that more than a quarter of households in the country live in shacks, but that this sub-standard dwelling type has proliferated substantially, increasing by over 10% points in a period of just five years,” experts have said.