By Staff Reporter
Property developer Simon Andjaba told this publication that he is not the right person to answer questions regarding why some of the houses that he built are showing extensive structural damage, and instead ‘took a message’ for the project manager.
In 2017, the City of Windhoek made available 399 serviced erven available as part of their plan to deal with the housing backlog. This was in line with the Harambee Prosperity Plan which sought 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 79 to the general public, City spokesperson Lydia Amutenya explained.
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 for the 79 houses.
According to the contract between Oluzizi-Amibex and the City, the houses would be sold as plot and plan and would not exceed an asking price of N$800 000.
Although Andjaba told media in May 2017 that the houses would be completed within 12 months, a visit by The Patriot to the construction site on Monday 4 February 2019, showed that the no-more-than 15 houses were anywhere near completion and to date, the construction of the houses remains incomplete.
Andjaba says that due to the delay in the City handing over the project to him (September 2018), he was unable to stick to the deadline.
“We were supposed to start immediately but we were delayed because of the City’s bureaucracy,” Andjaba told this publication.
A major discrepancy discovered on site is the manner in which external walls are constructed with a single-brick wall compared to double-brick walls, which is the standard.
When asked why he is constructing houses with single-brick walls, Andjaba said that all the houses are being constructed according to approved drawings and that he is meeting all specifications as per the Council’s requirements.
Several professionals within the construction industry say that single-brick walls are unacceptable for houses.
Local architect Toivo Nuugulu told The Patriot in February that a single-brick construction will only be for “really, really low budget projects” such as community toilets.
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 further said that with a single-brick outer-shelf, the structure is bound to collapse during settlement.
Various potential buyers that this publication spoke to pointed out that the single-brick factor had played a major role in their decisions to put on hold the construction of their houses, sceptical about the quality of the houses they would be getting.
Many residents only realised afterwards that they may have entered into bad deals, but they did so out of desperation for housing.
Speaking to Andjaba, he implies that the homes were built with ‘maxi-bricks’ and are thus up to standard.
Maxi-bricks are designed to be used as stand-alone bricks or in conjunction with houses or structures made with M140 blocks. The maxi-bricks can be used as a stand-alone product for use in walling or construction.
“You need to familiarise yourself with what a maxi-bricks is,” he said, “then you will understand the drawing that was approved by the City of Windhoek.”
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.
According to a source, the chickens have come home to roost, as the fears of the buyers of the plots and plans initiative are complaining about the conditions of their homes.
With large cracks visible in the boundary walls, one can see right through to the outside of the homes.
The Patriot reached out one ‘beneficiary’ of the building project, who says that, “the beneficiaries are supposed to be benefitting from this project, but what is the benefit? For more than two years now the construction is incomplete and those that are complete are defective.
Meanwhile the City expects me to pay rates and taxes for that period, when I am not enjoying the benefit of my asset.
The delay in completion is not my fault, but I have to be penalised twice; paying rates and taxes, and not having the benefit of living in my own home.”
Further she says that, “this is supposed to be a pilot project for the city; surely in a pilot project, things should go well to set a good impression? Now with this project, nothing has been going right since the beginning and it is expected that we must just put up with it because we are desperate. I will not give up this house, but I also will not tolerate being mistreated and bullied into accepting and signing for sub-standard construction.”
Andjaba said he is not aware of any defects in the houses, and suggested he refer this publication to the project manager in charge of the building project. He refrained from availing this reporter with the name of the manager.
He did however, concede that, “it is a norm in constructions that if there is any defect, it will be rectified, and there is also obligations in the contract over a certain period (sic), what period of time that rectification should be done; but what I am saying that I am not the right person to answer your questions, I will take up your questions (with the project manager).”