Residents of Port Harcourt city, especially victims of demolition exercises have resorted to residing in uncompleted buildings.
Some of these residents who actually own the buildings have had to move in due to the current economic realities in the country and the resultant hike in house rents.
For Datonye Oduye, who resides at Tourist Beach axis of Port Harcourt, “I have this building I was trying to put up for my family, but when government demolished our house at Abuja Estate, on Creek Road, Port Harcourt, I had no option than to move in here with my family. I tried to get another accommodation pending when I will finish this one, but the rents were too high and as you know there’s no money”.
Oduye, an auto-electrician said “As you can see we use Flex to cover our windows and doors, from here I believe we will gradually finish the building”.
All around the city there are some of people living in uncompleted buildings mostly owned by government, while some had allocations from government housing schemes, which were yet to be completed.
These buildings usually lack basic amenities, and the occupants face challenges such as lack of water, no sewage system, no ventilation and are congested because they usually would only fix one or two rooms to the level that it could be barely inhabited.
One occupant at government owned Igbo-Etche Housing Estate, Godwin Amangs said, “ I was homeless after they demolished my house at Elechi Waterside until someone told me there was a vacant flat here, though uncompleted and since we didn’t see or know the owner, just moved in with my family, we have been managing here. No toilet, but we have our ways”.
Another owner occupied uncompleted building at Iriebe, close to the government owned Iriebe Housing Estate, Bassey Udoh, who had been living in the uncompleted two-bedroom flat with his family for 18 months, lamented that life in that place was tough.
“We have to trek long distances to get water before we can cook or bath it’s a hard life we’re living here, but what can we do, we can’t afford the exorbitant rent even in this suburb”.
An expert in the built environment, Emmanuel Ikechukwu said these conditions were harsh, though not novel.
Ikechukwu hinted that the practice had been in place since the ‘70s where people expand their homes from one room to the big house it later becomes.
He expressed worry, however, that many of these buildings that are so occupied had structural defects, explaining that they were hurriedly put together so the occupants would have a place to lay their heads.
According to him, “how do you think civil servants to those days built their houses from their meager salaries, they build it to a level and move in and from there gradually complete the building.”
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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