Dozens of beneficiaries of a mass-housing partnership project by the City of Windhoek (CoW) and businessman Simon Andjaba, have started questioning the development following several questions raised about the quality of the houses.
The City in 2017 made available 399 serviced erven as part of their plan to deal with the housing backlog and in line with the Harambee Prosperity Plan to ensure the availability of 6 500 residential plots and 5 000 houses in order to deal with the backlog.
Of the 399 erven, 100 were made available to the youth, 140 to the land applicants on the City’s waiting list, 80 to Council employees and then 79 to the general public, City spokesperson Lydia Amutenya explained.
For the 79 houses, the City of Windhoek partnered with Andjaba’s company, Amibex-Oluzizi Joint Venture as a pilot project in a public private partnership agreement to deal with the housing shortage problem.
Andjaba in turn linked up with South African Company Amibex (PTY) Ltd to form an unincorporated association for purposes of the development project. The partnership came about as a result a council resolution. According to the contract between Oluzizi-Amibex and the City, the houses would be sold as plot and plans and would not exceed an asking price of N$800 000.
“The parties confirm that the developer has to prepare the initial design and specification of the houses to be constructed and shall be within the cost range as approved by Council (not exceeding N$800 000)” the agreement reads. According to the agreement, Oluzizi-Amibex will take 90% of the development net profit, while the Council takes 10%. They also agreed that the Council would assist the developer in “ensuring that the erven are transferred to the first time buyers,” but that the council will be solely responsible for the marketing and approval of the sales of the houses.
The agreement also states that the construction criteria will be provided to the developer by the council and that all construction has to be according to the specification laid out by the Council.
Andjaba in September 2016 took four Swapo councillors to Cape Town on an all expenses “familiarisation trip”. It is further alleged that four councillors have personally benefitted from houses allocated for their own use.
A document seen by The Patriot shows that at least 50% of those who were allocated the plots, are still awaiting bank approval for financing.
Andjaba denies any claims that beneficiaries are struggling to secure bank financing for the plot and plan projects.
“All the plots have been taken and those saying the banks are refusing to finance the housing must show you proof. No bank is refusing to finance those beneficiaries,” Andjaba told The Patriot. It is believed that the banks are reluctant to finance these houses due to the fact that they do not meet engineering standards.
Although Andjaba told the media in May 2017 that the houses will be completed within 12 months, a visit to the construction site on Monday 4 February 2019, showed that the no-more-than 15 houses were anywhere near completion.
Having promised to deliver the houses within 12 months of signing the agreement with the City, Andjaba said that he could not honour that promise because the City only handed over the project in September 2018.
“We were supposed to start immediately but we were delayed because of the City’s bureaucracy,” Andjaba said.
The agreement also stated that the developer must successfully sell 60% of the erven on a plot-and-plan basis with six months of the agreement being signed, which was in May 2017. He was also given permission to start construction, 14 days after the agreement was signed. According to a City of Windhoek official, it is not clear how many erven the developer has managed to sell, but it “is definitely not 60%.”
The quality of the houses are also being questioned as they are being constructed with single-brick walls compared to double-brick walls as is standard.
When asked why he is constructing houses with single-brick walls, Andjaba said that all the houses are being constructed according to approved drawing and that he is meeting all specifications as per the Council’s requirements.
“Single-brick is for community toilets”
Several professionals within the construction industry said that single-brick walls are unacceptable for houses.
Local architect Toivo Nuugulu told The Patriot that a single-brick construction will only be for “really, really low budget projects” such as community toilets.
“It is not advisable for the outer-shelf wall to be single-brick. The inside partitions can be single-brick. This is for protection and also because the outside walls carry the loads of the trusses,” Nuugulu said.
A civil and structural engineer from the Namibia Society of Engineers who chose not to be named said that one cannot build a single-brick outer-shelf as “it is none load bearing and cannot take the external lateral loads and those from accessible roof,” the engineer said.
The engineer further said that with a single-brick outer-shelf, the structure is bound to collapse during settlement.
A list of all the beneficiaries, seen by The Patriot shows that the plots cost between N$130 000 and N$230 000.
The two and three bedroom, single-brick houses’ total cost ranged between N$700 000 and N$805 000, with the construction cost ranging from N$560 000 to almost N$700 000.
The beneficiaries, according to the document, paid N$800 and N$2 200 as reservation fees for the allocation of erven.
One of the beneficiaries contacted by The Patriot was allocated one of the plots, but said that he later cancelled because he was not satisfied.
The home-owner-hopeful said that apart from being unsatisfied with the positioning of the plot, he visited the construction site and is not happy with the product he has seen. “I have seen that those people have not done any fieldwork. My financial advisor also confirmed my decision that I can’t spend so much money for a house that I will not be comfortable in,” the man said.
He added they when the project started they were told that it is a low cost housing initiative, but the final amount he was going to pay was going to be N$890 000, which he was not willing to pay for something he was not happy with.
Another beneficiary who also did not want to be named said that he was supposed to give his bank the go-ahead on financing the development, but told them to hold on.
The beneficiary, who was supposed to pay more than N$790 000 for the plot-and-plan, said that after inspecting the building plans further, he realised that he is not willing to commit to a sub-standard development for 20 years, which he is clearly not satisfied with.
He pointed out that the single-brick factor also contributed to his decision to put a hold on the construction of his future home.
Sceptical about the quality of the house he would be getting, the beneficiary decided to take the plan to an independent architect to establish whether the development is in actual fact worth the asking price.
He is of the opinion that many of them only realised afterwards that they may have entered into bad deals, but that they did so out of desperation for housing.
“Everybody wants to own property, everyone wants to own a house so it is only natural to jump at these opportunities,” the beneficiary said.
He added that he does not want the City of Windhoek to take away the plots from them, but that the City allow them to source their own contractors who would deliver houses they will be satisfied with. Another disappointed beneficiary said that she was hoping to move into her home in January this year, but that the City said that the houses will be completed in April this year only.
“I am actually angry because this has been coming since 2017.
They have not even started building my house so I don’t even know what the quality of the building is,” she said.
She managed to secure financing with the bank for the total cost of more than N$790 000 for a three bedroom house.
The Council is aware of the dissatisfaction some of the land beneficiaries as some of them wrote to the council to register their disappointment.
“First of all the plans were changed without consulting the supposed owners of the houses,” a letter by three of those who were allocated plots reads. “The other concern is that the houses are being built with SINGLE BRICKS. Even if at some point we want to extend a room or two, we will have to fork out a lot of money since we don’t know if and when the house will collapse,” the letter further reads.
They also pointed out that while the sizes of the houses decreased, the asking prices remained the same, which they don’t understand.
“We don’t think and believe it is fair for us to just accept things as they are, just because we are desperate to one day own a home,” the letter concluded.