Following the hardship faced by workers in Rivers State, particularly civil servants, some stakeholders in the built environment have urged the state government to come up with a housing policy that will enable public servants to own homes.
The stakeholders noted that public servants in Rivers State have suffered a lot in the area of housing and have spent a substantial percent of their income in servicing their rents.
Speaking on the issue in an interaction with The Tide in Port Harcourt, an estate valuer in the state, Mr. Benjamin Oti said that the kind of suffering that workers in the public sector are faced with in terms of accommodation can not be compared to what obtains in other states of the country.
He said that due to the nature of the environment where there is high demand for housing and few available ones, rent has become so high.
According to Mr. Oti who specialised in environmental management, the state government ought to come up with a policy that can enable workers own homes, even before retirement.
For him, the best option is for the state government to specifically target a good number of housing units that it will build on yearly basis for workers as a matter of policy, pointing out that if government can undertake to construct 500 to 1,000 housing units annually, for workers in five to seven years time, the result will be very glaring.
Mr. Oti however frowned at a situation where a public servant between level eight or 12 will still be paying for house rent after retirement, but quickly remarked that with a good policy workers can have access to a mortgage system with the help of government.
On his part, the estate manager of PABOD Finance and Investment Company Limited, Mr. Bestman Ariobiobara stated that if the state government will develop the political will to address the shortage or imbalance in housing for workers, it will go a long way to alleviate the sufferings of the masses.\
According to Ariobiobara, finance play a key role in housing provision, and a well packaged mortgage system that will be accessible to workers can guarantee turn around in their home ownership.
He said that if government can set aside at least two percent of its budget for affordable housing development every year, in a very short time many workers will own homes, while such funds could be recouped through regular deductions from workers salaries for a number of years.
It would be recalled that the Abia State government signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Aso Investment and Development Company (AIDC) for building of various units of houses for civil/public servants in the state.