By Staff Reporter
The National Housing Enterprises (NHE’s) core business is stated to be the acquisition of land from local authorities, municipalities and town councils to construction houses, while simultaneously providing home loans to Namibians with a lower income.
During 2015, however, government, in the form of the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, ‘took over’ the mandate for mass housing development, a project NHE managed in an effort to address the country’s critical housing crisis, with a promise to building 148 000 houses, by 2030.
A tendering process was then instituted, and several companies were awarded tenders to build houses in various parts of the country: – Enter Ferusa Capital Financing Partners CC.
Ferusa was awarded the tender to construct 505 houses in Swakopmund; an award which was sub-contracted to New Era Investments and Desert Paving and Construction. Ferusa Capital is owned by Thobias and Nelson Akwenye and was awarded the N$173 million contract in 2013 to build the houses at Swakopmund.
The incompletion of these houses six years later, has led to the ministry taking legal action against Ferusa, its Executive Director, Nghidinua Daniel, said in a press statement this week.
The charges are breach of contract and related damages.
Last week the nation was shocked when videos circulated on social media about the dilapidated state of the houses, some of which were being vandalised, since they have been in that state for many years.
Although three construction sites were simultaneously up for development at the time in the Swakopmund Municipality, Nghidinua said that specifically extensions 8 and 9 were to be constructed by Ferusa; the very site where the 505 houses now stand, incomplete, unoccupied and unattended.
The Executive Director said that although the State had honoured its obligation to the main contractor, Ferusa failed to pay its sub-contractors for a significant period of time, which led to the contractors namely New Era Investment and Desert Paving downing tools and dragging Ferusa to court.
The non-payment resulted in one of the sub-contractors (New Era Investment) taking Ferusa to court and the stoppage of work on the entire Ferusa site. New Era was granted an order in its favour, thus barring Ferusa’s attempt to have New Era removed off site.
The sub-contractor was granted a lien judgement at that time. Lien is the right to keep possession of property belonging to another until the debt owed by that person is settled.
It was reported in 2016 that Ferusa delayed payments of over N$13 million for between 30 and 376 days.
Said Daniel, “in terms of the court judgement, work on site can only resume after or on condition Ferusa first pays the money it owes its subcontractor. Ferusa has unfortunately so far not been able to sort out its dispute with the subcontractor.”
He further assured that the government and the Office of the Attorney General have taken steps to hold Ferusa accountable for the work to resume.
The urban ministry has now quantified the unfinished houses, and have engaged surveyors to estimate the cost of repairs towards the completion of the houses. Security at the site is also a concern as government is perturbed about the vandalism at the site.
“This process is at an advanced stage,” Daniel added, adding that since it is impossible, per the court order, for work to continue, government is itself negotiating with the subcontractors to untangle the dispute to ensure for the project to be completed.
Once completed, the houses will be handed over to beneficiaries based on the existing waiting list that has been compiled by the Swakopmund municipality and on a first-come-first served basis,” he said.
The ministry has made a plea to the public to reject the call for illegal occupation of the uncompleted houses as this is a prosecutable criminal offence.