|07 November 2016
Hannes Uys, Chief Executive Officer of EBHN, explains that the company has always taken its corporate social investment responsibilities very seriously and has initiated a number of projects in response to the needs of its staff, and the Walvis Bay community as a whole.
||In looking to create a stable future for both its employees and the community of Walvis Bay as a whole, leading west coast ship repair company Elgin, Brown & Hamer Namibia (EBHN) is proud to announce the next step forward in the provision of affordable housing for its employees.
The first major step towards the alleviation of the current housing shortage took place in May 2013, when EBHN purchased 10 hectares of undeveloped land located in the Tutaleni suburb of Walvis Bay.
A further significant milestone step was achieved on Monday 7 November 2016, when EBHN and the recently appointed Windhoek-based developers of the project, Oshipe Turnkey Projects (Pty) Ltd, met to sign the final development agreement at EBHN's offices.
In terms of the agreement, Oshipe will construct 214 houses and will recover their costs from the sale of these houses to EBHN employees exclusively. The construction project will be completed within an estimated 25 months from the start date.
"We have known for some time that the provision of affordable local housing was a priority for both EBHN and its employees; and therefore, we are delighted to be able to take this project another major step closer to realisation,” he says.
With its harbour being host not only to the ship repair industry but also the busy fishing sector, Walvis Bay is one of Namibia's major economic hubs. When South Africa formally transferred sovereignty of Walvis Bay to Namibia on 1 March 1994, economic activity grew rapidly, placing considerable pressure on the availability of housing. This challenge is compounded by the fact that expansion of the town is constrained as Walvis Bay is surrounded by the Namib Desert.
The founding of Tutaleni township was therefore an initiative by the Walvis Bay municipality to alleviate the local housing shortage. In continuing this initiative, EBHN is proud to contribute to the further growth and upgrading of this Walvis Bay suburb through the donation of surveyed land for housing; as well as to the security and quality of life of its staff and the greater community.
"By providing access to affordable housing, EBHN is demonstrating a strong commitment to the empowerment and well-being of our employees and their families" continues Uys.
He adds that, from the outset of this initiative, EBHN has gone to great lengths to not only ‘lock in’ optimal affordability, through its purchase and donation of the land; but to ensure this project went out on a public interest tender: where rigorous affordability, quality and the delivery criteria would be firmly adhered to by the developer that was ultimately selected.
“Part of the tender negotiations that we engaged in, prior to the finalisation of the selection process concerned these pivotal issues. In fact, we believe we have set the benchmark in Namibia for a robust and rigorous housing tender process, and hope that other organisations will follow this model and ethos for future housing tenders,” Uys remarks.
EBHN employees who have not previously had access to affordable housing will have first option in the allocation of these residential units. Each employee who qualifies for a house via this initiative will receive an equivalent financial benefit due to the fact that EBHN will be donating the virgin land.
Employees who take up this option will be able to purchase homes directly from the developer with the assistance of bank-approved loans. An EBHN Housing Committee has been established to facilitate this process. There will be different categories of houses constructed which will differ primarily in size and price.
The initial tender process for the EBHN Housing Project entered the final round of evaluations during August 2015. Short-listed candidates presented their proposals to the Housing Committee by the second week of September 2015.
Following a period of cost negotiation with the emphasis on ensuring affordability, a revised tender process was successfully completed, with EBHN determined that this housing initiative – so pivotal to its employee’s future security and well-being – should proceed, despite the recently constrained economic climate and its associated challenges for the company.
Oshipe Turnkey Projects are currently in the process of finalising the design drawings for Walvis Bay municipal approval.
"We are delighted to be part of a community-orientated, forward-thinking project such as this, which will go a long way towards alleviating the current housing shortage in Walvis Bay, and improve the quality of life of many of its residents," says Pierre de Wet, Technical Director of Oshipe Turnkey Projects.
The initiative, which is an embodiment of the government’s philosophy of fostering public private partnerships, has been well-received by the Namibian Deputy Minister of Local Government, who has praised the uniqueness of the proposal and will be monitoring the progress of the project with interest.
"This project is completely aligned with Namibia's Vision 2030 programme and with the intent of His Excellency President Dr Hage G. Geingob, when he called on all Namibians to unite and defeat poverty, with the collective aim of building the symbolic 'inclusive Namibian house': a nation united in its desire to grow and succeed," says Uys.
“With our affordable housing initiative, we are proud to be able to contribute to the development not only of our staff, but of our town and greater coastal community; thereby ensuring that more Namibians get to purchase – and live in - their own houses," he concludes.