SWAKOPMUND - Some landless residents of Henties Bay have threatened to grab land today if their demands for residential land are not met.
Residents will stage a peaceful demonstration today at the town after which, they said, they will resort to land grabbing if council does not respond to them in writing by 11h00 today. The group that identify themselves as the Henties Bay Social Action movement say some of them have been on the council’s waiting list for the Build Together programme for more than 10 years.
Chairperson of the group, Andreas Prins, told New Era yesterday that the waiting list for the Build Together programme was stopped when houses were constructed under the mass housing project. He says that about 200 residents will take part in the demonstration today.
“Council knew exactly what the demands of the residents were in terms of housing. They knew that ordinary residents would not be able to afford the mass houses, yet they went along and built them,” Prins said.
He added they are frustrated with council, accusing it of merely shrugging its shoulders when residents previously demanded houses and residential plots.
“We have been renting for years now. Our kids are not young anymore and we certainly are also not getting younger. Until when must we pay rent?”
According to Prins, they handed a petition in May to the council in which they demanded affordable houses and residential land for residents.
He said the council’s only response to the petition was that they did not have funds to meet their demands.
“We are giving council until 11h00 today to respond to our demands in writing, if not, we will go out in masses and grab land as council failed us in terms of land and housing delivery,” he said. When he was contacted for comment yesterday, the Mayor of Henties Bay Herman Honeb said there are currently no funds to service land at the town.
“However, our officials met with the group and had good discussions about the issue. It is just that some of their demands are unrealistic and cannot be met overnight,” he said. Honeb said the shortage of land is not an issue peculiar to Henties Bay but affects all municipalities in the country.
“This is one of the reasons why the second national land conference is taking place in October to also discuss and seek solutions to how best local authorities can address the challenges,” he elaborated.
He cautioned residents of Henties Bay to rather directly consult with the council instead of resorting to land grabbing, as it would give the town a bad image.
“We do not want to scare away investors as we need them for development,” he said.