Low-cost Housing : Costly Complicity!

Government’s efforts to provide Cameroonians with decent houses at affordable costs through the Low Cost Housing Scheme is a laudable initiative.


With the rapid rate of urbanization and growing needs for lodging facilities, government had no choice than to come up with the Low cost housing scheme that targeted the construction of some 10,000 low cost houses in various towns in the country, notably Yaounde, Douala, Bafoussam, Bamenda, Limbe and Sangmelima. Hardly has government gone far with the programme when the dangerous cankerworm of fraud and illegality hit the sector.  The Olembe Low Cost Housing site in the capital city Yaounde has been hit by crisis with some 126 families standing in limbo after having been assured and provided lodging in this site. Hardly did the people know that they were illegally occupying the houses.
Indeed, they are victims of costly complicity orchestrated by an alleged security officer, staff of a local council as well as that of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development that is in charge of overseeing the construction of the houses and management of the low cost housing programme. A dangerous network that has caused untold damage to the State and the population!
Information from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development indicates that some completed apartments already bought are illegally occupied.
Others are uncompleted but also curiously illegally occupied. It is disclosed that members of the fraudulent network consisting of the Ministry’s staff, that of Yaounde II Council and a security guard working in the Olembe site had given out the apartments to tenants and were collecting rents. The illegal occupants who have either been ignorant or accomplices to the fraudulent deal have no choice than to quit following the unmasking of the transaction. This is because the rightful owners who have bought their apartments have to be handed the keys for them to move in. The uncompleted apartments have to be completed and put in the market. The Ministry’s officials say their Legal Department had seized the competent authorities for the legal proceedings to take its course.
The Olembe saga has to serve as an eye-opener both to government and members of the population who are desperately seeking for affordable lodging.  What has happened in Olembe can just be a tip of the iceberg of the illegal occupation of the low cost houses in other towns of the country through the handy work of fraudsters. Government therefore needs to redouble vigilance.  There also has to  be an intensive  awareness creation campaign to enable  people understand  the government’s  low cost housing programme and the procedure to acquire lodging therein, as well as the key actors involved in the process. Exemplary sanctions should be meted out on fraudsters to deter other people from indulging in such activities. Just as in other domains, several officials take undue advantage of positions to deprive the State of scarce resources for personal gains. The misappropriation of State property is therefore a serious call for concern.
The consequences of the Olembe incident are also heavy on the supposed tenants, some of whom have no means to get back the hard-earned money they paid as rents. Another consequence is instability as ...


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