Alleged bias against black town planners when it comes to accrediting town planners is threatening to divide the industry, but the regulating authority is adamant that those who are disgruntled are the ones who do not meet the requirements.
Some black aspiring town planners, who wish to venture into the industry, claim the process they need to follow to be registered with the Namibian Institute of Town and Regional Planning Council is not “fair” and that it is easier for some to register than others.
The institute’s registrar, Ritta Khiba, confirmed that complaints were received over alleged bias, but was quick to point out that those who are complaining are those that do not meet the requirements. Town and regional planning in Namibia is regulated by the Namibia Town and Regional Planning Council.
For an applicant to be accredited, Khiba said: “It must be for a total period of at least 24 months practical training undertaken after obtaining the relevant planning qualification. The practical training must be undertaken under the guidance of a registered town and regional Planner.”
Should a town and regional planner in training have insufficient experience observed during the examination, said Khiba, the council may grant extension of time for the applicant to gain more experience before being re-considered for admission.
“Every applicant for registration must, after obtaining a recognised planning qualification, complete a period of practical experience. This experience of town and regional planning work is required so that a person who is registered has knowledge of applying town and regional planning theory and must be familiar with Namibian planning legislation. He [the applicant] must also during this period acquire a professional approach and method in executing planning work,” she said.
According to an aspiring town planner, who spoke on condition of anonymity, there is favouritism and racial discrimination at the council.
“Even if you qualify they will not allow you to register your company but if you are light-skinned then you are advantaged. I completed my degree in 2006, and then I worked for two years after [I]obtained my qualification. I completed the two years that were required for me to be registered, but when I approached the registering authorities with my qualifications and experience I could not register,” said the disgruntled source.
The institute was formed in 1978, and it is comprised of professional planners working in the public and private sectors. One of the main functions of the council is to ensure that each member adheres to the rules of conduct and that the interest of the general public is protected from misconduct, conflict of interest or malpractice by any of the practising members as well as registering professional town and regional planners and town and regional planners-in-training.
“When I took my things to the council they told me that I should go back to the field and that I do not qualify yet but my other colleagues that I am aware of have already completed their work and they already have their companies registered with the council but some of us have to suffer,” the source said.
The source further said: “I have been trying to register for a very long time now. I just feel like there is unfair treatment in the sector.” There are certain universities where individuals are required to obtain their qualifications in Namibia, with the Namibia University of Science and Technology being the only one in Namibia.
According to a registered planner, who also wished to remain anonymous, registering with the institute is not an issue if all requirements are met. “It is easy, you basically write a letter to the council telling them you want to be registered as a town planner-in-training.” “You have to work for approximately two years at a registered town planning company. Then they [institute] must confirm that you indeed worked, after that you go for an interview where it is determined whether you have met all prerequisites before you are registered,” said the source.