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.”