For mass housing to be feasible, a lot of work needed to be done by the government at various levels, as well as the mega housing solutions providers.
It is not an over- statement that there is indeed an acute shortage of housing in Nigeria generally, and the seriousness of this could be seen in fast growing metropolis and mega cities like Port Harcourt and Lagos among others.
The high demand in housing has made the cost of building a home and house rent almost beyond the reach of some, while most workers spend at least 30 percent of their income in servicing their rents, particularly in the densely populated mega city like Port Harcourt.
Government at various levels and at different time had taken steps towards provision of affordable housing for its citizens, coupled with other efforts made by private investors, especially in the housing sector to address the problem, yet it has appeared that these efforts have actually not made visible marks in addressing housing problem.
There are key factors that have great impact on provision of affordable mass housing, and they include land, availability of building materials and access to fund.
Indeed, the quest to provide mass housing across the country in such an economy of ours where the banking sector has almost become anti-loaning institution would continue to be a mirage.
This is so because of certain conditionalities that every fund seeker must have to fulfil on the process of loan procurement, even when one has managed to secure acceptance from the bank.
Uneasy access to fund is further aggravated by the delay in the planned review of the 1978 land use act and the monster of substandard building materials that have flooded the market, which had been made visible in the several collapse of high rise building in Port Harcourt and other parts of Nigeria.
According to Mr. Anthony Owuye, a Mortgage Banker and the Managing Director of Personal Trust Savings, and Loan Limited “the only way for mass housing to be a reality would be for government to provide an enabling environment for developers to be able to function effectively and efficiently, and this will only take-off with the review of the Land Use Act which is still lying untouched at the floor of the National Assembly”.
He was of the opinion that the present cost of building materials and other indices in the construction industry would make mass housing a mirage, but however pointed out that mass housing was possible if the political will was there to make it happen.
The mortgage banker whose company is promoting Lake View Estate within the Amuwo-Odofin axis of Lagos also remarked that no developer would be willing to engage in the provision of mass housing, considering the cost of construction and the rate at which most developers obtain funds from banks to execute their projects.
In expressing optimism on the whole process, Owuye said that government could make the dream come true if it engages the services of professionals in the building and environment sector to assist in making things work.
Using the current era formular, he said that the provision of mass housing will be possible through the public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement, adding that government must be ready to provide an enabling environment for all concerned to work without hinderance.
Studies have revealed that in developed countries, mass housing had been made possible because of the enabling environment that was created for those in the construction industry to thrive.
No developer would want to turn down an offer to build mass housing so long as the environment for that was right and less cumbersome for him.
A recent World Bank survey has revealed that infrastructure neglect has remained the bane of growth of African economies. The survey disclosed that 24 nations of Africa including Nigeria suffer protracted infrastructural neglect.
However, things will turn around for good if priceless effort would be made by both government and private individuals in ensuring that bottlenecks to housing development are removed.
All hands must be on deck to ensue that the prices of building materials came down to a reasonable level. This would of course pave way for developers to embark on the construction of more houses, and affordable ones at that.
On their part, government at various levels should develop policies capable of encouraging investors in housing supply, so as to bridge the estimated housing deficit across the country, for which the land reform agenda will play a vital role.
As mortgage bankers and financiers play their role, and unless other corresponding measures are taken care of, the concept of affordable housing would continue to remain a dream which could take eternity to come true.
Expert Wants State Of Emergency In Housing Sector
The Chief Executive of Fesadeb Communications Limited, Mr Festis Adebayo, has called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in the housing sector to address effects of population growth.
Adebayo, who was the convener of the just-concluded 13th Abuja International Housing Show, made the call in Abuja.
According to him, the population of the country is growing at a geometric rate, while the government is working at arithmetic progression.
He said the Federal Government’s efforts could not match the country’s population growth rate.
“The 18 million deficit cannot still be same, everyday we are increasing in number without increasing in ideas, policies and political will.
“The government should declare state of emergency in the area of housing; you cannot be selling cement for N2,500 and then ask one to deliver a house for two million naira.
“The cost of building is very high, so government should act now before it will be late, “ said.
Adebayo said that government should not be involved in building houses, but it should come up with policies that would encourage people to invest in the sector.
He advised relevant authorities to focus more on what is called “Rental Housing Scheme’’ which he defined as “own and pay accordingly” .
Adebayo also called on the government to ban importation of building materials to encourage the use of local materials.
The Tide that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Leilani Farha, had advised Nigeria to address its housing problem during her visit to the country. According to her, the United Nations estimates that Nigeria’s population will double by 2050 to around 400 million people to make it the world’s third-largest nation after India and China.
She said that there was lack of adequate housing in a country where most inhabitants lived on less than two dollars a day in spite of being Africa’s largest economy.
S’Africa APC Moves To Tackle Nigeria’s Housing Challenges
The South African Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has promised to work with President Muhammadu Buhari to solve problems of housing, healthcare and energy in the country.
The group, in a letter addressed to the President and jointly signed by Mr Bola Babarinde and Prof. Folorunso Fasina, respectively, said these were critical issues demanding urgent attention of the President.
A copy of the letter, titled “On the National Question: Critical Issues Demanding Urgent Attention of Mr President,” was made available to The Tide last Monday.
The group, which expressed pleasure in meeting with the President during his visit to South Africa, said that the low income earners and civil servants were hardly remembered by developers of mass housing schemes in the country.
“The issues of affordability hampers ordinary citizens from access to good housing and a recent research done for Niger State shows that most civil servants die a few years after retirement from active service.
“Life after service is hard because things change sharply post-retirement, including housing. The Diaspora can assist in the provision of quality and affordable housing for the low to middle income earners, particularly civil servants.
“Using modern technologies, we can provide housing solution through mortgage financing supported by single digit interest rates. Workers will have between 15 and 25 years to repay, depending on the years of service left.
“It will be credit to this government to provide housing solution and reduce the suffering of the people,” the group said.
On the health sector, the group said that the country was not doing well taking into consideration the flight of medical personnel and the amount spent on medical tourism to countries like India, South Africa, Egypt and UK.
The group said that Nigerians in Diaspora, especially professionals in South Africa, were ready to partner the government at various levels on healthcare (primary, secondary and tertiary) to confront the health issues.
They said that this would also include mentorship of young medical personnel, exposure to the state- of-art-equipment, information exchange and sustainable, but affordable medical missions and training.
The group added that infrastructure including roads, water, school buildings, hostels accommodation and other facilities also needed attention of the government.
Niger Earmarks Land For 200 Housing Units
The Niger State Government has provided land for the construction of 200 housing units to reduce the burden of accommodation among residents.
Managing Director, Happy Home Builders Nigeria Ltd, Mr Lukman Komolafe, disclosed this last Sunday in Abuja.
He said that the project was part of efforts by the state government to address the housing needs of residents of the state.
Komolafe said that the project, which started early in the year, would range from two bedroom bungalows to two bedroom compacts.
He said that the houses located along Madalla-Abuja road in Suleja would be completed by the end of the year.
According to him, the company was involved in building some housing units for cooperatives and groups in the state as part of effort towards addressing housing deficit.
Komolafe said that the company was known for its adequate and timely delivery of service.
“We are known for our excellence and professionlism with lot of commitment,” he said.
Komolafe said that housing was a crucial basic needs of every human being and so needed to be addressed urgently.
The housing estate which is an initiative of the Suleja Local Government Council and fully supported by the Niger State Government sits on 33.4 hectares of land with 371 number of plots with an average size of 450 square meters.
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