Analysis: BENEDICT TEMBO
THE 2018 Agricultural and Commercial Show is well behind us but it has left some lasting impressions that are worth re-visiting.
One of the stands where I made a stopover was the National Housing Authority (NHA), which has struggled to stay afloat since the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) government stripped its assets and flogged them to sitting tenants cheaply.
The proceeds NHA made from the sale of its assets were so insignificant that it was impossible to re-invest as tenants paid for the houses in instalments over a decade.
Since then, the institution has been famous for failing to meet its obligations to workers, who are owed salary arrears for one year.
The projects NHA has undertaken for the National Pension Authority (NAPSA) have not been enough to offset its obligations.
These include houses off Leopards Hill Road in Lusaka, the Northgate Complex near the Olympic Youth Development Centre and now the housing complex under construction in Makeni.
However, it is not all gloom for NHA as management has been round the clock to moot a survival strategy to keep the institution afloat.
NHA has launched the rent-to-own project designed to empower public service workers with accommodation.
This project, with an initial phase of 5,000 houses, will support infrastructure and social amenities.
The housing scheme is meant for civil servants under a government scheme through a payroll system.
Under this scheme, NHA will build 5,000 houses for public service workers in 24 districts across five provinces at US$350 million to help ease accommodation for public service workers.
On the Copperbelt, the project will be implemented in Luanshya, Masaiti, Mpongwe and Ndola, while Chibombo, Chisamba, Kabwe, Kapiri Mposhi, Luano, Mkushi, Ngabwe and Serenje have been selected.
Chongwe, Lusaka, Luangwa and Rufunsa have been identified in Lusaka Province, with Chadiza, Chipata and Vubwi being the sites for the project in Eastern Province.
Kasama, Mbala, Mungwi, Mpulungu and Senga Hill are the project areas in Northern Province.
NHA is targeting public service workers’ housing allowances which will be collected at source at the Ministry of Finance.
NHA director for real estates management Sharold Nakeempa said the housing allowance will also go towards purchasing the houses.
Mr Nakeempa said the scheme is far much cheaper than mortgages.
NHA says majority of civil servants cannot afford decent mortgages.
“It will bring life to NHA,” Mr Nakeempa said of the scheme intended to improve the livelihoods of public service workers.
The Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure has, through NHA, signed a memorandum of understanding with Zhong Mei for the ‘Rent a House to Own it’ housing scheme project.
Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Development Ronald Chitotela said civil servants have more chances to own a house now through what we have termed ‘Rent a House to Own it’.
“They will be required to pay in a period of about 30 years. What this means is that as they pay their rent, the bill of the house is being offset,” Mr Chitotela said during the launch.
He said Government has demonstrated that it has the will of making sure that the country has good houses which are affordable for the people of Zambia.
Mr Chitotela said over 3,000 Zambians will be employed during the first phase.
“Such projects will be rolled out to other parts of this country. All provinces and districts will be covered,” Mr Chitotela said.
Mr Nakeempa said although the initial target is to build 5,000 houses, it is a drop in the ocean.
The ultimate is to build 50,000 housing units to become the mainstay of the NHA.
Apart from this, the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development has also given NHA a contract to build 55 houses in newly-created districts of Luano in Central Province, and Sinda and Vubwi in Eastern Province.
“If this trend continues, NHA will be sustained,” Mr Nakeempa said.
Founded on April 2, 1971, NHA’s mission is to deliver adequate, decent and affordable housing reflecting changing communities’ lifestyles through cost-effective financing and creative designs.
NHA is all about delivering affordable and decent housing to all.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail editorials editor.
Analysis: BENEDICT TEMBO