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Walvis Bay backyard tenants’ camping plans fizzle out

Walvis Bay backyard tenants gathered outside the Kuisebmond Stadium on Friday morning from where they were transported to Farm 37, where they planned to camp until their housing challenge was addressed.

The tenants handed over a petition to the Walvis Bay mayor, Trevino Forbes, at Farm 37.

Immanuel Pombili Ya Festus, who read the petition, said the process of moving people to the site was taking too long.

The residents were also unhappy that the council had allegedly failed to discuss their petition.

“On 3 April 2023, we rectified our petition and handed it over to the mayor. To our surprise, on the agenda points of the ordinary council meeting held 9 May 2023 under petitions, minutes are indicating that no petition was received. This has delayed our dream to own a place to construct something to call home. Our petition has alternative ideas to meet council halfway in terms of finance, we are willing to assist from our pockets. However, we are delayed by this deliberate ignorance of our petition, which we equally do not know whether it will ever be discussed or not.

“We requested to be allocated land, whether serviced or serviced. However, there are talks that the minister has directed the council not to move people to unserviced land. We ask the Municipality of Walvis Bay to apply for exemption from such provisions to allow us to be relocated to unserviced land,” he said.

Forbes said the council would not bend to force, but “we will do things procedurally and the right way”.
“We will go nowhere fighting. We have been in council for three years, and already put a framework to move people to Farm 37. We are moving people to the first 50 [plots] as a benchmark. Negotiations have been [going] on with them. We want to make it affordable to everyone so that you can pay off monthly. We do not want any mistakes,” he said.

Forbes said after a council meeting on Thursday, it was determined that the moving of the first 50 will start soon.

He, however, lashed out at the committee leaders’ approach.

“You registered people at a fee, after that, you instigated land grabs. Then you were employed by the municipality as leaders and reimbursed to take part in the registration of the people for Farm 37. Why are you again coming back to instigate people to grab land when you are part of the registration process? […] There is a backlog, which has been there before we came. And we must try to close the gap,” he said.

He urged the association to have more members on its committee, as he only sees two people leading the group.

While some residents immediately left the place after meeting the mayor, some remained, saying they would not move. They, however, moved later. A community meeting is planned where members can ask more questions.