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.”
Land Use Charge: Stakeholders Call For More Property Valuation
Stakeholders in the real estate industry have said the Lagos State Government should increase the number of properties that have been valued under the amended Land Use Charge (LUC) Law, 2018.
They noted that this would take away the burden of paying high levies on properties by a few in the state.
The Deputy President, Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria, Mr Akintoye Adeoye, who applauded the recent amendment of the LUC law by the Lagos State House of Assembly, said the number of properties that were captured before the suspension of the process in 2018 was too small compared to the population of the state.
He said, “The percentage of properties that have been assessed is still less than 30 per cent. Rather than tax this number of people, it is better for the government to widen the net and bring more property owners onboard.
“It doesn’t make sense to tax just a few people, especially in a challenged economy like ours. We should bring in more people rather than increase the rate for a few.”
Adeoye said the state government’s decision to amend the LUC law would encourage more people to invest in property in Lagos State.
A six-man ad hoc committee, chaired by Rotimi Olowo, recently presented the report of its findings from a public hearing to the House of Assembly revealing that the review of the LUC lawwas generally perceived to be arbitrary and unrealistic.
During the presentation, Olowo was quoted to have said the Section 1(2), “Pensioner” should be redefined to include all retirees resident in the state from federal and state institutions and from both private and corporate organisations domiciled in the state.
He said it was agreed by participants and stakeholders during the public hearing that vacant plots of land and unoccupied properties should be exempted from the LUC liabilities and a proper classification of commercial and residential property in the state should be done for the purpose of levying.
Among other amendment is the Section 17(c) (i) stating that there is no need for 50 per cent payment by aggrieved owners over disputed charges before their eligibility to appeal, while aggrieved residents and property owners should pay the preceding year’s charges when the disputed charges are being resolved.
Akintoye noted that the resolve to amend parts of the law especially the aspect covering pensioners was a welcome development.
He said, “Before now, it used to be only Lagos State retirees but it has been extended to others across the federation.
“Lagos market is Nigeria’s market and people from all over the world invest in the state where many of them also retire. It doesn’t make sense to have that dichotomy in the treatment of pensioners.”
The President, Nigerian Institute of Building, Mr Kunle Awobodu, stated that to make the newly amended law achieve its objectives, there should be modalities for implementation to prevent fraud and false claims.
“I am in agreement with the amendment. The only thing I am sceptical about is how those from the private sector will be identified. It is difficult but it can be done. It is difficult to have an accurate record of pensioners from the private sector. But there should be modalities for implementation,” he added.
A former President, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, Mr Bode Adediji, said even though the details of the amendment had not been made public, its assent by the governor and implementation should be looked into for the benefit of Lagos residents and investors.
Housing Deficit: LASG Completes 360 Homes In Ikorodu
Lagos State Government said it has completed construction of 360 additional housing units for commissioning soon as part of its efforts to tackle the challenge of housing deficit in the state.
The state Commissioner for Housing, Mr. Moruf Akinderu–Fatai, disclosed this recently, while conducting a validation and inspection visit to Lagos Homes, Lagshom Igbogbo Scheme 2B, in Ikorodu Local Government area of the state.
“Lagos is adding 360 more homes to the existing stock of homes in the state in the next few weeks,” Fatai said.
According to him, the state government has resolved to complete all housing schemes that were set aside by the previous administration in order to speedily bring succour to residents by increasing the availability of decent accommodation for the increasing population of the state.
“Reducing the housing deficit and bringing more people on the home ownership ladder through provision of affordable and quality homes are tasks that are germane to building a 21st century economy.
“Hence, the administration of Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu is frontally pursuing the goals of completing all the on-going housing schemes to ensure that befitting and decent accommodation is available to the ever increasing population of the state,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr. Wasiu Akewusola, who also affirmed that over 360 families would soon move to their homes, expressed satisfaction with the on–going works at the site and encouraged the contractors to keep up with the good job in order to deliver at the targeted date.
He disclosed that in year 2020, not less than 3,500 homes in Sangotedo, Idale in Badagry, Odo Onasa/Ayandelu, Ibeshe, Egan-Igando and Ajara would be completed from both government owned schemes and joint ventures.
The LagsHom Igbogbo Housing Estate is made up of 30 blocks of buildings with 120 units each of three-bedrooms, two-bedrooms and one- bedroom, making a total of 360 units of family homes.
In addition, the scheme which commenced in 2012 has a central sewage treatment plant, water treatment plant, high quality road network, and Street lights.
ICPC To Investigate Ownership Of Unoccupied Houses In Abuja
The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) will soon commence investigations into the ownership of unoccupied houses in the Federal Capital Territory.
The agency says the move is a result of the increase in the number of expensive and unoccupied houses in the FCT.
According to the Federal Capital Territory Administration, the housing deficit for the nation’s capital now hovers around 1.7 and two million.
It also says at least 600 abandoned buildings have been identified by the authorities, with most of them located in Gwarimpa, Wuse, Garki, Maitama, Asokoro and Apo.
The buildings are, however, above the means of most civil servants, resulting in them seeking more affordable accommodation in the outskirts of the city.
Director, FCT Development Control Department, Muktar Galadima, explained that they were making moves to take over the property.
He said if the Federal Executive Council intervenes and they acquire some of these property, it would be a way to solve Nigeria’s housing deficit.
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