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Obtaining Building Permit Is A Must, Lagos Warns Developers

By Kazeem Ugbodaga

The Lagos State Government on Thursday warned that obtaining building permit is a must before anyone can erect a building in the State.

The government vowed that any building found without building permit in any part of the State would be shutdown.

General Manager, Lagos State Building Control Agency, LASBCA, Engr. Olalekan Shodeinde gave the warning during the sensitisation campaign in Ajegunle area of Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, in conjunction with the Ministry of Information and Strategy, to sensitise the people on the need to obtain permit before construction.

He said government would no longer tolerate all forms of illegal development across the State as sanction would be meted out on defaulters.

Shodeinde, who was represented by the Head of Department, Building Administration and Public Enlightenment, LASBCA, Engr. Victoria Ajose, said government had declared zero tolerance to building collapse and non-obtainment of building permit.

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“if you don’t comply with our laws, government is ready to prosecute after serving contravention notice for the people to come forward to regularise their documents and obtain necessary permits.

“After all these, if you don’t still comply, we will seal such property,” he said.

Shodeinde lamented that cases of people breaking government seals were on the rampant, warning that there is a consequence for doing that.

He said this was what informed the reason why LASBCA began sensitisation tour twice a month to let the people know that they must follow due process in building construction.

According to him, LASBCA is now moving round to monitor building development across the State to ensure that people did the right thing right from the foundation level.

He said in Ajegunle, many buildings were now old, noting that there was the need for their owners to subject such structures to integrity test to ascertain their durability.

However, areas visited in Ajegunle during the sensitisation campaign included Old Ojo Road, Chidi Street, Market Street, among others. Fliers were distributed to residents during the sensitisation campaign.

FCTA issues 3-week ultimatum to police personnel to quit residence

THE Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), on Thursday, issued a three-week ultimatum to some personnel of the Nigeria Police Force, occupying one of its resettlement sites at Galuwyi Shere in Bwari Area Council of FCT, Abuja, to vacate the place with a view to allowing contractors complete renovation of the work on schedule.

The project, which sits on approximately 900 hectares landmass, has about 2, 276 units of a two-bed room each and one unit of four-bedroom for the Chief’s residence.

The Police personnel were said to have been taken possession of the uncompleted project without permission a few years ago.

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Director, Resettlement and Compensation of FCTA, Baba Kura Umar, who issued this ultimatum during a tour of the project, further added that the quit notice earlier issued by the FCT administration expired since February 14.

According to him, “the project started in 2006 and most of the buildings were later completed but because they were not handed over to us (FCTA), some Police personnel moved in but we are working on getting them out so that contractors can fast-track completion of renovation work in about three or four weeks.”

He said the pilot resettlement project was designed to accommodate 13 communities which would be relocated from the city centre to pave way for development.

On the reasons for late take over the project, the director said that the administration needed to ensure facilities such as water, schools and road network provided in tandem with global best practices before relocating the communities.
“Impunity should not be allowed to thrive in our way of doing things. The government has spent huge sums of money to put in place this project, and it is meant for the relocation of the original inhabitants and they have been writing to us to relocate them there because they feel it is more comfortable for them due to the world-class facilities on the site.

“The Inspector-General of Police is aware of this and we are honestly sympathetic to the Police course. It is not our wish to drive them out of the facility because they are even the ones who are giving us security. But we have no choice but to eject them, at least from the 145 of the units for now.” He explained.

Umar said the relocation was planned in phases, adding that the first phase would involve a movement of about 145 households of Jabi Yakubu and the others would follow subsequently but “we cannot renovate this place when the police are there and some of them have been given the houses out to third party.

“Contractors who had abandoned site have now returned to site and work is fast ongoing on the road construction, water provision and the school is almost 100 percent completed.” He stressed.

Some occupants of the houses who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed that they moved into the houses a few years ago without neither payment nor permission.

According to them, we spent different sums of money to carry out different degrees of repairs on the houses to make them habitable before we moved in.

House of Reps constitutes advisory committee to amend COREN Act

The House of Representatives Committee on Works on Wednesday constituted a Technical Advisory Committee with a view to developing templates for amending the existing Act establishing the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), 2004.

The advisory committee which also got an already conceptualised work plan handed to it by the Works Committee, is mandated to help sharpen the Engineers Registration Act and to make further recommendations that are necessary for the workability of the Act ahead of a public hearing on the amendment Bill.

According to the Chairman, Hon. Toby Okechukwu, who inaugurated the technical advisory committee, the TAC is to receive submissions from critical stakeholders in the engineering profession and any other professional group that can make necessary input into the workability of the Bill.

Toby Okechukwu said the mandate of the Committee was to review all submissions made to the House Committee at public hearings.

He further urged the Technical Advisory Committee to analyse global best practices and their adaptation to the Nigerian Environment.

Okechukwu also charged the committee to consider the provisions of the bill, make appropriate recommendations to retain, amend or expunge where necessary.

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In his acceptance speech, Professor Muhammad Dauda, who stood in for the Chairman of the Technical Committee pledged that the Committee would hit the ground running in the task ahead of it.

The membership of the Committee, which is mainly composed of engineers from COREN and it’s sister body, NSE, also has representatives from the Federal Ministries of Power, Works and Housing as well as the Clerk of the House Committee on Works at the National Assembly.

Why buildings collapse, by SON, Lafarge, others

Building construction experts from Lafarge Africa Plc, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and others in the housing industry have said the engagement of non-professionals and artisans in the construction of buildings is responsible for building collapse.

They spoke in Abuja at a stakeholders’ forum organised by SON for the Northcentral Zone.

The Technical Services Manager of Lafarge Africa Plc, Bukola Adebisi, an engineer, said the quacks lack ed the training and expertise to execute building projects without supervision.

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This reason, he explained, was why the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) partnered some stakeholders, including his firm, to produce a concrete mix manual that will serve as a guide in the production of concrete. The manual is the first of its kind in the industry.

SON’s Head of Product Authentication Usman Mohammed, who represented the director-general, said the use of sub-standard building materials was another major factor responsible for building collapse.

He called on stakeholders in the sector to eradicate sub-standard products.

To ensure that only building engineers work on construction projects, COREN has an Engineering Regulation and Monitoring Unit, which monitors construction project, its Registrar, Kamila Maliki, said.

He added that the five engineers involved in 27 buildings collapses between 2016 and last year had been sanctioned by the body.

UNDP to donate 292 houses to Borno IDPs

The UN Development Programme, UNDP, Country Director, Samuel Bwalya, has said the agency will donate houses, school and health centre to the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in Ngwom, Borno.

Mr Bwalya said in Abuja that Ngwom, an agrarian community in Mafa Local Government Area, Borno, fell victim to violent attacks by Boko Haram insurgents in 2014.

He said that that UNDP would deliver completed 292 permanent houses out of proposed 300, a primary school and one health clinic to Ngwom indigents displaced by the insurgence on February 28.

According to him, UNDP has also completed 288 market stalls, 20 stores-shopping centre, and two boreholes, which would be delivered to the returnees.

Mr Bwalya said that UNDP piloted a comprehensive community stabilisation programme in Ngwom.

“Our intervention was aimed at four inter-related areas of livelihoods, security, basic services, and emerging local governance.

“Using Ngwom as pilot community for the programme, we have built some structures for them.

“Throughout the process we have engaged local labours and cash for work approaches and emergency employment were provided as alternative source of livelihood for already poor and vulnerable communities in the state,” he said.

According to him, UNDP has also distributed rainy-season agricultural inputs to over 550 farmers in the community.

“The community will be officially opened on February 28, 2018, when displaced families will formerly take delivery of these permanent shelters, better than their previous houses which were erased by Boko Haram.

“Until 2014, Ngwom had an enviable reputation of being the livestock and grains trading hub of Borno State and its neighbouring states.

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“This include countries of the Chad Basin; Chad, Cameroon, Niger, Libya and as far as to the Central Africa Republic,” he said.

Mr Bwalya said that in Sept. 2014, the settlement was violently attacked and destroyed by Boko Haram insurgents.

The insurgents attacked the small settlement twice between 2014 and 2016 leaving behind unimaginable destruction of lives and property.

“It is estimated that about 100 people were killed during these attacks and the community was destroyed.

“Many public buildings, including the only primary school that served the community, the only healthcare clinic, market stalls, motor park (bus station) and public toilets with equipment were significantly destroyed.

Ethiopia builds Africa’s first energy plant that converts trash into electricity

Waste management is one of the biggest challenges confronting many African countries. The issue of collection, management and disposal of solid waste still features highly in major towns and cities across the region. Failure to correctly manage waste disposal has often led to flooding and the outbreak of diseases.

In Ethiopia, its largest rubbish dump Koshe was for almost 50 years, home to hundreds of people who collect and resell rubbish trucked in from around the capital Addis Ababa. It, however, made headlines last year when it killed about 114 people, compelling the government to rethink an alternative use for the site which is said to be the size of 36 football pitches.

Ethiopia has since turned the site into a new waste-to-energy plant via the Reppie Waste-to-Energy Project which is the first of its kind in Africa. This forms part of efforts to revolutionise waste management practices in the country.

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The plant, which was expected to begin operation in January, will incinerate 1,400 tons of waste every day. This represents about 80 percent of the city’s waste generation. The plant will also supply the people with 30 percent of their household electricity needs.

“The Reppie project is just one component of Ethiopia’s broader strategy to address pollution and embrace renewable energy across all sectors of the economy. We hope that Reppie will serve as a model for other countries in the region, and around the world,” Zerubabel Getachew, Ethiopia’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations said in Nairobi last year.

The waste-to-energy incineration plant will burn the rubbish in a combustion chamber. The heat produced will be used to boil water until it turns to steam, which drives a turbine generator that produces electricity.

Waste-to-energy incineration is also vital for cities where land is in short supply, as apart from generating electricity, space will be saved and there is a substantial prevention of the release of toxic chemicals into groundwater, and reduction in the release of the greenhouse gas – methane – into the atmosphere.

The Reppie plant operates within the emissions standards of the European Union, as it contributes towards alleviating air pollution.

Waste-to-energy plants are already popular in Europe, as nearly 25 percent of municipal waste is incinerated.
In France alone, there are about 126 waste-to-energy plants, with Germany having 121 and Italy having 40.

The Reppie plant in Addis Ababa is the result of a partnership between the Government of Ethiopia and a consortium of international companies: Cambridge Industries Limited (Singapore), China National Electric Engineering and Ramboll, a Danish engineering firm. The consortium is hoping that the project will be a series of similar ones in major cities across Africa.

The Housing Challenge in Nigeria

The famous Abraham Manslow’s Hierarchy of Needs places shelter as a basic need of every human. In other words without shelter man is less bothered about social activities, self-esteem or any other offerings of the society. If a man wanders all day, at some point in the dark hours nature would make a request for him to rest his body, except the man belongs in the association of chronic insomniac. Sadly, what should have been a basic provision has become a luxury in Nigeria. According to the 2011 housing survey there is a 17million housing deficit in Nigeria. Generally, housing has been a major challenge in Nigeria for decades and there seems to be a preponderance of ineffective or motionless housing policies that has led to the inability of government to address the housing challenge.

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In 1991 the government of Ibrahim Babangida promulgated the National Housing Policy, which was aimed at making housing affordable for Nigerians. As a result of the ineffectiveness of the policy in completely addressing the issues, a committee was set up in 2001 to provide a new housing policy. The report of the committee culminated in the New National Housing Policy of 2006. Yet, that policy despite the breadth of its input did not solve Nigeria’s housing challenges. In 2012 the then Minister of Housing, Dr. Ama Pepple presented a new draft policy on housing to the Federal Executive Council. The policy sought to initiate a new paradigm to the existing housing policy. The new policy proposed the collaboration between federal government and the private sector in the provision of one million houses annually in order to address the housing deficit of the country. In other words, the new policy sought to promote Public-Private-Partnership in housing for all Nigerians. Although, the new direction encouraged the participation of the private sector in the housing sector, not much was implemented before the expiration of the Jonathan’s administration.

The current administration under the leadership of Babatunde Fashola as the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, has also introduced new policy measures to address the housing challenges in the country. The foregoing shows that Nigeria has never been starved of policies in the housing sector, yet we are confronted with a high housing deficit. To provide a comparative perspective to the challenges facing Nigeria it may be instructive to examine the situation in other climes. For instance, China with a population of 1.3billion people has a housing surplus yet Nigeria with a population of about 200million has a housing deficit. Governments in many countries take the responsibility for the provision of housing through a mortgage financing system that simplifies home ownership for employed citizens, and a social security system for the unemployed.

However, housing in Nigeria has been characterised by weak land administration system, lack of access to funds and absence of a well implemented and holistic policy. In most states of the country owning a land is a cumbersome process that discourages many. In Lagos, which is the commercial nerve centre of the nation and arguably the most populated State in the country, the menace of “Omo Onile” has become a headache for prospective home owners. Although the challenge created by these land grabbers has also led to the increase in the patronage of real estate firms as those who could afford the realtors prefer to avoid the land grabbers by buying ready homes.

Available data shows that there are currently about 35 Primary Mortgage Banks (PMBs), and 19 registered banks offering mortgage to customers at an interest rate of between 11 and 27 percent. Many of the commercial banks demand a down payment of 25 percent of the value of the mortgage with a repayment plan of between 10-20 years. When this is compared with China where interest rates are below 5% it is understandable why Nigeria has a housing deficit while China has a housing surplus. As a result of the high interest rate many Nigerians are compelled to own homes through personal savings or loans provided by employers. This scenario means that individuals that lack good employment cannot save for a house nor access loans to acquire a house. The weak social security system in the country also means there is currently no plan to provide homes for the poor in the society. Interestingly, housing units built for the poor in Nigeria cost between N5million and N20million. How many poor people can truly afford N500, 000 talk more of N5million to own a house in Nigeria?

The Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) established in 2013 was conceived to raise funds for housing in the country. The NMRC has been able to disburse funds to some mortgage institutions to finance the construction of housing units. However, the process of distribution and ownership of the relatively cheap housing units is still entrenched in some form of corruption. Apart from the high cost of owning the supposed low-cost homes, the distribution process does not completely ensure equity and fairness. In a country like Nigeria, whilst a powerful and well connected individual can obtain allocation of five units, the poor man on the street may not even be aware of the process needless to mention owning a unit.

According to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2016 Report, Nigeria ranks very low globally, positioned at number 169th out of 189 countries for registering property. This report is reflective of the process it takes to obtain a land title in Nigeria. In actual fact, many of the houses in Lagos and neighbouring states do not have titles not necessarily because the owners of the houses are not willing to obtain titles but because the process can be cumbersome and frustrating. In addition to the difficulty in land acquisition, building materials in the country are also expensive. Again, the high cost of building materials produced in the country such as cement is also representative of the prevailing business environment. For instance the cement manufacturing companies are also faced with issue of gas shortage to power their independent power plants; they are still faced with bad roads and a non-functional rail system, which increases the average transportation cost on every item produced. This is a pointer to the fact that the infrastructural deficit in the country affects virtually all sectors of the economy. Until there is a deliberate effort by the government to intervene in this regard, affordable homes may never be a reality for many Nigerians.

There is urgent need to review the Land Use Act to make it relevant in addressing the contemporary housing issues in Nigeria. The Senate President did indicate at the beginning of the 8th Assembly that the repeal of the Land Use Act will be prioritized in the current assembly. Sadly, the just concluded constitutional amendment fell below expectation for many in that regard. The Act needs to be repealed to alter the statutory ownership of land in the country. The current structure does not promote innovation and debilitates the growth of the housing sector in the country.

Beyond the promotion of collaboration between public and private sectors, the government also needs to ensure adherence to quality in the houses that are constructed. The 2012 housing policy that culminated in the introduction of measures aimed at promoting private sector participation has led to the upsurge in real estate firms across the country. The Lekki axis of Lagos is a testament to this increase. New estates are springing up on a daily basis. However, the weakness in our housing policy is also evident in the ill-regulated nature of some of the buildings that are daily sold to unsuspecting buyers. Many of the housing units are replete of plumbing and electrical defects. There have been cases of building collapse primarily owing to substandard materials that are being used in the construction of homes. For those buildings that make it to the finishing process with attractive exterior, not many will be aware of the possible defects of such houses. If the housing policy does not take into consideration the quality of the houses built, we may be preparing ourselves for unprecedented rate of building collapse in the years to come.

Finally, the country cannot leave housing in the hands of the private sector. Many sectors of the economy can be private sector driven but home ownership cannot be left completely in the hands of the private sector. This is because there is hardly any economy that can be completely free of the poor. Private investors cannot provide homes for the poor in the society; this is the government’s responsibility. In the same vein, Nigeria’s population has been projected to exceed 300million by 2050 making it the 3rd largest in the world, the question we should be asking is “what housing plans do we have as a nation for this huge population?” If the government fails in this regard, then we should expect to see increase in the rate of homeless people in Nigeria and especially urban cities such as Lagos.

Government must provide infrastructure – Estate Developers

Real Estate Developers are appealing to government to develop the infrastructure needs to enable them easily provide affordable housing.

According to them, it is the duty of government to provide the roads, drainage system and other infrastructure needs, since such activities are capital intensive and add to the cost of building.

Ghana’s housing sector has been faced with a worsening housing deficit of about 1.7 million units.

But Vice Chairman of Regimanuel Gray Limited, Regina Botchwey said the deficit could reduce if government intervenes.

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“About 40% of the cost of every house is infrastructure. There must be good walkways, water pipes, electricity among others,” she said, adding that it is the responsibility of government to provide such infrastructure.

She stated that there have been times developers have attempted to take on the cost but could not bear with it.

“If these are done by the developer, it costs so much. So I can’t see how we can talk about affordability. Until the authorities take up this infrastructure costs we will still have this problem. It is a major challenge for us” she stressed.

Flexible pension laws to reduce high mortgage costs

In a related development, Banks want government to amend certain aspects of the housing law to allow collaboration between them and the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) to make mortgages cheaper.

According to the banks, various restrictions surrounding the tier one and tier two pension funds, hinder their ability to assist Ghanaians to access mortgages.

The call comes after President Akufo Addo in his State of the Nation Address disclosed that the NPRA and banks will design a system to make mortgages affordable.

Managing Director of HFC Bank, Anthony Jordan in an interview with Citi Business News insists this can only be realized if government amends the legislation.

Angry Gov El-Rufai Demolishes Opposition Building For Suspending Him

Governor Nasir el Rufai of Kaduna State early this morning ordered the demolition of the secretariat of the factional All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state for suspending him from the party.

PMNEWS gathered that the building being used by the APC faction called Kaduna Restoration Group, led by Senator Suleiman Hukunyi, representing Kaduna north central, was pulled down under supervision by armed policemen and soldiers.

Read More: 13 Reasons Why you Should Exhibit at the 12th Abuja International Housing & Construction Show 2018

Senator Hunkuyi accused El-Rufai of ordering the demolition, adding that armed soldiers blocked both sides of the road during the exercise.
Though Governor El-Rufai is yet to respond to inquiries on the demolition, a senior official of the Kaduna government who did not want his name in print confirmed that the building was demolished by the Kaduna State Urban and Property Development Agency (KASUPDA) for illegal activities.

According to him, the building was allocated for residential purposes and not for political activities.

The Senator Hunkuyi faction of the APC in the state on Thursday accused Governor of El-Rufai of anti-party activities and later suspended him for six months.

How to develop Nigeria’s real estate, by experts

Perturbed by the high level of homelessness among Nigerians, the Federal Government has been urged to establish a housing microfinance fund or shelter fund to provide affordable houses for those in need of accommodation. Establishment of housing microfinance fund, according to Social Housing Activist and International Housing Finance Specialist, Mr. Adekunle Faleti, will enable low-income earners enjoy quality housing. Faleti said if the initiative is well implemented, it will help to slow down the mushrooming of slums.

Read More: 13 Reasons Why you Should Exhibit at the 12th Abuja International Housing & Construction Show 2018

He advised government that stakeholders in the low-cost housing value chain in Nigeria should be trained to be able to deliver more housing through housing microfinance solutions.

Faleti enjoined the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Housing Authority to play key roles in the initiative and strengthen it to provide the bulk of affordable housing for rent to salaried workers and others.
He noted that amongst major challenges facing the country presently, housing remains one of the biggest problems, especially for people in the bottom of the pyramid.

“A key problem in Nigeria, and indeed Africa today is that a large percentage of the citizens are in the lower class bracket and are unable to afford to acquire their own homes, and as a result are forced to rent, live in slums, squat or remain homeless,” he said.

He recalled a study carried out by the World Bank that only three per cent of Africa’s population had income viable for a mortgage, adding: “Worse yet, according to the UN Habitat (2010), about 40.32 per cent of Africa’s population live in slums.”

Faleti emphasised that housing solutions in Nigeria addressed mostly the upper-middle to upper class, noting that financial institutions tend to ignore the lower class as they are deemed high-risk and are perceived not to offer any beneficial and consistent rate of return. He added that most microfinance institutions in Nigeria have not provided any specific solution that meet the need of lower to middle income class bracket.
The mortgage banking sector in Nigeria has been confronted with numerous challenges that have impeded the attainment of its policy objective of acting as a catalyst for the development and provision of affordable housing in the country.

Some of the challenges include: Delay in accessing NHF funds/dearth of long term funds. Most of the PMBs continued to find it difficult to provide the required bank guarantee to access the NHF.

Only four out of the 42 PMBs in operations were listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange which meant that many others did not have access to long term funds through the Stock Exchange window. Another challenge is the Land Use Act, which has made the process of perfecting title to landed property burdensome, slow and costly.
That had affected negatively the foreclosure procedures on the properties pledged as collateral. Delivering a keynote address at a workshop for judicial officers on mortgage recently in Abuja, the Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, noted that the land tenure system as enshrined in the Land Use Act of 1978 has deterred proper development of a robust and sustainable housing sector in Nigeria.

Emefiele also disclosed that difficulties in delivering affordable housing to low and middle income households wherein lies the greatest demand for housing as another major drawback.

The governor acknowledged limited access to housing and mortgage financing, complications in enforcing mortgage contracts and foreclosure on properties in Nigerian courts, slow bureaucratic procedures in land administration and high cost of land registration as serious impediments to adequate housing delivery in Nigeria.
He also identified high rate of population growth, high rate of rural-urban migration and exorbitant cost of construction materials as other problems militating against the robust development of housing and mortgage sectors in the country.

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