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Stakeholders urge housing regulation, masterplan

Fresh impetus was added recently to the drive to enhance sustainability in Nigeria’s housing and mortgage markets, with stakeholders agitating for housing masterplan for each city in the country.

They also called for real estate infrastructure policy that would ensure greater impact in homeownership, especially on site and services schemes. They believe such deliberate policy will reduce the cost of homes and instill investors’ confidence as well as ensure effective housing delivery.

The stakeholders, comprising chief executive officers of the real estate companies, institutions, development agencies and government agencies and regulatory bodies, also harped on the need to utilize regulatory measures to closeup the increasing property vacancy rate in cities.

They met at the 12th Abuja International Housing Show(AIHS), where the Ghanaian Deputy Minister of Works and Housing, Mrs Freda Prempeh, urged African countries to boost housing development by exploring local resources to achieve local content.

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Prempeh said Africa was endowed with natural resources like timber, clay, mine stones, among others, but were not being harnessed for housing development.

She bemoaned the housing deficit facing the continent, adding that Ghana recorded many housing intervention programmes to reduce housing deficit and achieve Sustainable Development Goal nine and 11.

While calling on African governments to ensure collaboration with private sectors to acquire landmark and provide infrastructure needed for effective housing development, she added, “the housing industry is capital intensive, so we have to be innovative by using different technologies.”

Specifically, the Acting Managing Director, Shelter Afrique, Mr. Femi Adewole said that regulations must increasingly play a role in addressing the issue of data. “The market plays a natural role, it must surely gravitate to segments where the returns are higher. Occasionally, you must constrain market players and resources on the direction you want it to go as as a social policy.

“Government should designate some areas where you can only build housing, within a certain price range and approvals will be given to developers that fulfill the criteria. “I mean zoning useful land and regulating its use for either for a low income or medium income housing scheme.

“Secondly, regulating occupancy and use. There is something wrong with having huge chunk of vacant occupancy rate where people are searching for houses. Impose property tax on the houses and lets people fill the pinch. All has a goal of diverting market activities where you want it to be,” Adewole said.

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Collaborating his view, Prof. Timothy Nubi, the founder and Director, University of Lagos Centre for Housing Studies, stressed the need for control in the housing sector. He recommended for a housing masterplan with a life span of 20 years.

“We’re making attempts to get housing data, investors don’t need data, we can only use it to prepare a master plan. We must ensure that each city has a housing masterplan,”he said.

The outgoing Managing Director, UPDC, Mr. Hakeem Ogunniran argued that what the industry needed was long-term funding and government’s deliberate infrastructure policy on site and services scheme. He also called for an enabling environment by government for property development.

National President, Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN) and board member of AIHS, Ugochukwu Chime urged government to see housing provision as its primary responsibility by making policy framework and creating enabling environment for real estate business to thrive.

He said: “The 1999 Nigerian Constitution, Section 16, under the Fundamental Objectives of State Policy, compels the Nigeria State to provide suitable shelter for all citizens. The need to have access to decent housing at affordable disposal prices ought to the birth right of every Nigerian.”

Chime called for a vibrant policy that will accommodate the interests of the financiers/investors, which was not accommodated in the existing laws, policies and processes to unlock the capacity in the real estate industry.

The President, Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), Kashim Ali said that the housing and mortgage sub sector needs intervention in all aspects to ensure that it functions effectively. “While it is very important to ensure that government enact a policy that create efficient housing markets, it is also necessary to have effective housing finance considering it’s importance in the operation in the housing markets.

Chinedum Uwaegbulam

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