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Fishermen at Walvis Bay have established the October Seafarers United Land and Housing Federation, which will negotiate affordable land and housing for seafarers.

In 2015, a strike in the fishing industry led to massive job losses, and as a result, fishermen used to camp at the Kuisebmond stadium at Walvis Bay.

Eventually, the government stepped in and consulted companies to re-employ the people.

Although they had no physical employment, the fishermen were on the companies' payroll, and they decided to create a land and housing savings group.

"The group started with 280 members, which has grown to 404. When we formed this federation, we agreed among ourselves to start contributing N$200 each month; each person contributes N$200. Now, when we started contributing N$200, we started in 2021, which makes the federation two years old as we speak. We are currently standing at N$800,000 that we have raised ourselves, which we have in our account," explained Willhelm Lotokeni, Deputy Secretary General of the October Seafarers Federations.

The Walvis Bay Municipality has granted portion 18 at Farm 37 to the October Seafarers United Land and Housing Federation.

However, funds are needed to service the land, which has the potential to yield 700 plots.

"To service our portion, it will cost us N$1,13 million, and we are planning as a federation to pay them a deposit of N$50,000 tomorrow morning so that they can start with the process of laying out the portion."

The Federation was publicly introduced to the fishing industry by Fisheries Minister Derek Klaze, who delivered his annual address at the harbour town.

"Some of them don't have houses; they are working in the fishing industry, but they are staying in backyard shacks; some don't even have a place to sleep. The principle is based on the shack dwellers principles, and the shack dwellers are one organisation that is doing the best in Namibia by helping themselves to get better living and homes, not houses."

A stakeholders meeting is slated for March 2024, and Klazen has appealed for support.

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MICT

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Author
Renate Rengura