Experts seek sustainable housing delivery

Built environment experts and other stakeholders have canvassed best ways to overcome housing and mortgage challenges in order to enhance home ownership among Nigerians and promote economic growth.

Real estate developers, architects, builders, promoters of building materials, bankers, policymakers and mortgage providers among others, called on the government to look at funding issues among other impediments to affordable housing delivery.

The experts, who converged on Abuja for a week long housing show, listed inadequate finance, high cost of fund and building materials, poor land administration, lack of creativity in architectural design and difficulty in accessing land as knotty issues militating against affordable housing delivery.

Themed: “Driving Growth and Sustainability in Nigeria Housing and Mortgage Markets through Improving Structures and Policies for Impact,” the forum was organised by Festus Adebayo-led Fesadeb Communications Limited.

Diverse views

Speaking at the forum, President of Real Estate Development Association of Nigeria (REDAN), Chime Ugochukwu, a surveyor, identified poor land administration process as one of the knotty issues in the sector.

According to Chime, land has a lot of characters such as registration, titling and restiveness in some communities, and in some places housing developers cannot have access to the land due to these issues. He tasked stakeholders to come up with recommendations that will enhance housing development in the country.

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The REDAN boss also called for vibrant policy to accommodate interest of financiers and investors not contained in existing laws and policies in the country. According to him, the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, Section 16, under the Fundamental Objectives of State Policy, compelled the country to provide suitable shelter for all citizens.

He urged the government to see housing provision as its primary responsibility by making policy framework and creating the enabling environment for real estate business to thrive.

President, Nigeria Institute of Building (NIOB), Mr. Kenneth Nduka, called for effective synergy between professionals in built environment to tackle challenges of housing.

Through the synergy, he said that professionals would ensure that only standard building materials were used in the provision of affordable houses.

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.

The deputy minister noted that despite the fact that the continent was endowed with natural resources such as timber, clay and granites among others, these have not been harnessed for housing development.

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She called on African governments to ensure collaboration with private sectors to acquire landmark and provide infrastructure needed for effective housing development.

Finance

Executive Director, Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC), Dr Chi Akporji, noted that NMRC had evolved a technology platform, which allowed the stakeholders and key players in the industry to come together with the goal of reducing housing cost and increase housing efficiency.

She decried cases of unoccupied houses in Abuja and other places in the country, adding that studies had revealed that the houses were used by corrupt people to dumb stolen money.

Some indigenous construction companies called on the Federal Government to assist them with loans to boost their businesses.

Managing Director of Window Story, Mrs. Helen Uchechukwu, an architect, urged government to reach out to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) for financial support.

She said: “The Bank of Industry and Central Bank of Nigeria should try and identify and assist the SMEs through the show because most of the SMEs in the built environment are just trying to grow.”

According to her, some of the SMEs are looking for loans and incentives to boost their businesses but due to some bottlenecks, they cannot achieve it.

Assistant Manager, SOLIGNUM Nigeria, Mr Gosife Etele, said that the company’s participation in the show had helped his organisation in boosting patronage through sensitisation and awareness being created during the show.

Other building material manufacturers also urged the government to assist local manufacturers for economic growth, noting that many companies are highly in need of steel to boost production.

Suggestions

Director, Centre for Housing Studies, University of Lagos, Prof. Gbenga Nubi, called on the governments to replicate the Jakande Mass Housing Scheme model in all the states of the federation, including Federal Capital Territory to bridge the estimated 17 million housing deficit in the country.

Nubi expressed worries over the country’s inability to do things right in housing delivery after the impactful mass housing scheme of Alhaji Lateef Jakande, a former governor of Lagos state between 1979 and 84.

Pointing out that the government has the responsibility to provide housing for its citizens, make infrastructure worthwhile and building materials possible to access, he said: “Every responsible government can follow employee housing scheme of Jakande to bridge accommodation deficit.”

According to him, Jakande housing scheme sold two bedrooms flat for N2, 500 as against N50, 000 being obtainable in the market then, insisting that if government could emulate such feat, it would guarantee affordable houses for civil servants and other accommodation seekers.

Akporji corroborated Nubi on the replication of Jakande housing scheme for states, saying that the government should make concerted efforts towards it across the country.

Govt’ response

Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola , stated that Federal Government’s new policy would ensure local production of building materials to bring down the cost of housing in the country.

The minister said the new policy would make the housing sector vibrant and also create jobs.

Special Adviser, Property and Investment, Ogun State, Babajide Odusolu, called for concessions towards provision of affordable homes such as a reward system and tax credits.

Odusolu also advocated pioneer status for players in real estate sub-sector fiscal incentives, use of technology in construction, review of planning guidelines to encourage planned density enhancement and provision of concessions on fiscal terms for developers of affordable homes and critical supply items.

He also canvassed for the revisit of vocational training policies and procedures, and making mortgage repayments for first homes/primary homes below N15million, a tax-deductible expense.

Odusolu, who is also the Managing Director of Ogun State Property and Investment Corporation (OPIC), stressed the use of technology such as formwork technology in construction, adding, “it is durable, reusable, more efficient, increased quality, faster construction and reduced labour costs.”

Besides, he said that the use of formwork technology was 25 per cent to 40 per cent cheaper through time and cost savings.

The OPIC’s managing director identified critical supply challenges as material sourcing, huge labour skills gap, infrastructural deficit/financing and constraining tax/fiscal policies.

Last line

Efforts should be made by organisers of such forum to package their findings and all suggestions should be packaged in a communiqué and forward to the government for necessary action.

Dayo Ayeyemi

 

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