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6 ways to increase affordable housing in Nigeria

Shelter is recognised as a basic human right, however due to the high cost of building materials constructing affordable housing is proving to be difficult for developers.

Over 40% of Nigeria’s population live in urban areas, which include Lagos, Ibadan and Jos. Factors responsible for this urban population growth includes a high fertility rate of about 2.8%, and rural-urban migration which directly stimulates the urbanization process. The resultant effects of this trend is the emergence of new growth centres and the increase in size of existing ones. The urban population has been growing rapidly  at an annual rate of 4.2%.

The immediate and extremely visible consequence of urban population growth is the housing crisis.

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Despite the efforts made by the government to tackle the issue of housing availability, the cost of building in Nigeria keeps rising. This is as a result of several factors, especially the high cost of building materials.

The majority of Nigerians believe that expensive materials are quality materials. In an effort to keep up with the latest design techniques, expensive materials and other furnishing components are used in constructing homes, which upon completion, are rarely affordable.

Materials which can be produced or manufactured locally are imported at a higher price, either as a result of high taste, or because there’s no confidence in some of the locally produced materials, These materials include marble, granite, stainless steel, exotic ceiling and roofing materials, massive columns with ornaments and cornices, bullet proof windows and doors.

Another issue that prevents the use of locally manufactured building materials in the construction of mass low cost housing is the limited durability of locally produced materials leading to either high maintenance costs or short lived structures. Mud or wooden houses are prone to attacks by termites, are susceptible to catching fire and rain degradation, and suffer excessive dryness during the harmattan.

The low and middle income earners, are the most affected by the high cost of construction in Nigeria. Due to affordability they live in densely populated or informal ‘slum’ areas.

The high income earners, 1% of the population, occupy a small percentage of the housing stock. Therefore, the majority of newly built homes in city centres are left unoccupied.

These are some of my recommended solutions to achieving affordable housing in Nigeria:

  1. The construction of future housing projects should be based on locally manufactured and quality construction materials.
  2. Promote local manufacturing of materials that are of a high quality, low cost, energy efficient and environmentally friendly.
  3. The Federal Government with State Governments should embark on more large scale housing programmes and encourage the use tested local materials.
  4. Intensive research should be carried out in schools and research institutes on more ways to improve the quality of our local building materials.
  5. There are existing cement factories in places like Calabar, Sokoto and Shagamu, as well as clay factories in Minna, Maraguta and Okigwe. They should be given support to ensure continued quality material production.
  6. Vacant houses in central urban areas can be converted to multi-residential flats, for rent.

The high cost of building has negative implications on the building industry, for example project abandonment, a drop in building construction and quality materials, and the inability to secure finance for projects. However, an application of the proffered solutions would reduce investment risks for contractors, obtain clear and effective strategies on how to reduce prices of building cost and generally, boost the viability and development of the industry.

This article was written by Olamide Udoma. A researcher, writer and filmmaker holding degrees in BSc Architecture, MA Design and MPhil Infrastructure Management.

Top Construction Industry Events To Look Out For In 2019

As 2018 quickly comes to a close, construction industry professionals are planning what the coming year will look like for their companies and careers. Attending trade shows and conferences arguably is one of the best ways to gain knowledge about improved ways of building and doing business, offering attendees educational sessions, hands-on demonstrations, jobsite tours, networking opportunities, and unparalleled access to exhibitors promoting their products and services.

Here is a list of the construction industry’s biggest events, in chronological order.

World of Concrete
Jan. 22-25
Las Vegas

World of Concrete draws nearly 60,000 industry professionals each year, and the 2019 event will feature more than 1,500 exhibiting companies and a robust lineup of educational sessions as well as various events, tours and demonstrations.

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World of Modular
March 15-18
Las Vegas

This annual event focuses on modular building, which is gaining market share as a delivery method, and will bring together hundreds of professionals for networking, educational sessions and displays of new products related to the latest trends in modular.

ABC Convention
March 24-28
Long Beach, California

The Associated Builders and Contractors will be building on the momentum it had relaunching its convention in 2018 with an extensive array of presentations and networking opportunities.

AGC Convention
April 1-4
Denver

Nearly 100 years old, this convention will include more than a dozen educational breakout sessions and keynote presentations, and products and services from more than 125 companies in the AGC Equipment, Technology & Construction Solutions Expo.

Construction Financial Management Association Annual Conference&Exhibition
June 1-5
Las Vegas

General sessions, mini-conferences, breakout sessions (including advanced sessions), dawn peer groups, and social and networking experiences all address the challenges that construction financial managers face daily.

ENR Future Tech
June 3-5
San Francisco

Geared toward business and IT leaders in the AEC field, this event features sessions on emerging technologies for boosting productivity, profitability and safety as well as networking opportunities.

American Institute of Architects Conference on Architecture
June 6-8
Las Vegas

This annual event for architecture professionals that also can be useful to those in the AEC industry offers a plethora of educational sessions and a sizable show floor of product and service vendors.

13th Abuja International Housing Show

July. 17th-20th

Abuja,Nigeria.

Abuja International Housing Show is West Africa’s biggest housing and construction expo, a forum that brings together all real estate stakeholders to discuss and display sector trends.The show has an excess of over 15,000 visitors and over 400 exhibitors.Since 2005, the event has offered real estate stakeholders an additional medium for networking, meeting visitors who have the buying capability – face to face and sealing deals. Over the years, Abuja International Housing Show has been able to generate not only high quality audiences and sale leads for exhibitors but also great bargains for attendees.

The National Association of Women in Construction Annual Conference
Aug. 21-24
​Atlanta

Designed for all women in construction, this event offers keynotes and panels on industry diversity and awareness, leadership training and opportunities to network with fellow women in the business.

Source:Affa Dickson Acho with Agency reports

Hiring Women Can Ease Labour Shortage In The Construction Industry

It’s a time to celebrate the progress we have made in women’s rights but also time for reflection. We ought to stop and look back at the progress we have made or the lack there of. In many areas we have made progress but in many others, progress is rather illusive. Women are viewed as equal bread winners and they hold key positions in many industries. Does it mean that we have achieved gender equality?

Let’s turn to the construction industry. Despite the progress we have seen in the societal acceptance of women as equal breadwinners, capable leaders and successful entrepreneurs, in many industries such progress is less prevalent than others. Construction industry has a long history of sexism and discrimination against tradeswomen. In some cases, such treatment ended in tragedy such as the fate of carpenter apprentice,Outi Hicks, who was killed on the jobsite by a co-worker.

An uphill battle

In the 21st century, it is shocking that women in the construction industry still face an uphill battle when it comes to advancement. But when you consider the root causes and statistics, it’s not such a shock.

Almost a third of women working in construction fear sexism will hold them back from the industry’s top jobs, a recentstudy by Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors(RICS), found last year. The construction trades have long been among the industries with the lowest percentage of gender diversity in the workforce. Women represent only 9% of the overall construction workforce and 3% of the building trades.

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Why does it matter? The construction industry is experiencing a dire skilled labour shortage and women make up half of the population and workforce. It’s intuitive to conclude that a large part of the solution to the skilled labour shortage is in the hands of the untapped talent — we need more tradeswomen! It’s that simple. If the construction industry doesn’t act promptly to address and mitigate sexism and breakdown gender bias, it wouldn’t just be hindering progress in closing the gender gap but also the skilled labour gap.

It is true that we must address gender bias and sexism in the construction industry. But is it sufficient just advocating for gender diversity to be addressed? To create a diverse and inclusive culture and eliminate long-standing gender bias, we must advocate for diversity to be embedded into business strategy. It goes beyond proving adequate restroom facilities for tradeswomen and personal protective gear in smaller sizes.

Steps toward progress

Some building trades are beginning to make significant progress using both approaches. Tradeswomen and their allies, with the support of their leadership, are making headway in eliminating gender bias and turning hostile work environments into fostering work conditions for tradeswomen.

Iron Workers made headlines in the news with the announcement of its groundbreaking paid maternity leave last year with six months of pre-delivery and six to eight weeks of postpartum benefit for qualified iron worker women. Paid maternity leave is virtually unheard of in the construction industry. The leadership hopes the initiative will boost recruitment and retention of iron worker women.

As an iron worker and tradeswoman, it makes me incredibly happy to know that the building trades are leading the way in making diversity a priority. We have a better chance of closing the gender and skills gaps by incorporating diversity into the business strategy.

With the paid maternity benefit, the Iron Workers rolled out its “Be That One Guy” campaign, which challenges sexism in the construction industry. It is intended for curtailing the workplace bullying, hazing, sexual harassment and discrimination tradeswomen face. The campaign seeks to educate and raise awareness and using tools such as “bystander training” and dedicated town halls, address the root causes and create strategies to mitigate the problem.

It calls on the tradesmen to be advocates for their female counterparts — be a voice for justice when they see their sisters being mistreated due to gender bias and sexism. The campaign will serve as a model applicable across the building trades and hopefully, become a catalyst for change in the construction industry in general.

Closing the gender gap

It’s time to address the elephant in the room. We can’t close the skills gap without closing the gender gap in the construction industry. More organizations and companies in the industry, including contractors, building trades and end users, must incorporate diversity into business strategy and company culture.

There’s certainly a co-relation between harassment tradeswomen face on the job and the concept of “manly jobs.” I have experienced it firsthand. It starts with parents only allowing girls to play with dolls and boys to play with cars or encouraging girls to “grow up to be a wife and mom” while allowing boys to explore options other than just being a dad or husband. It starts with career stereotyping — expecting women to be teachers, nurses and secretaries.

Gender stereotypes also frequently play into how students are exposed to career options in middle and high school. Such career stereotyping has led building trades and construction industry careers to be considered “manly jobs” and created barriers for women entering the field. The idea of leadership in the industry is connected to “toughness” that is associated with physical strength and spatial problem solving.

Tradeswomen are constantly challenged and tested to ensure that they can “handle the manly job.” The idea of manly jobs is the root cause of sexism and discrimination tradeswomen have faced for decades. It is the barrier to increasing diversity in the industry. It is the reason why women represent just 3% of the building trades.

The future of the construction industry depends on increasing diversity. It depends on campaigns to raise awareness and incorporating diversity into business strategy.

This piece was written by Vicki O’Leary, Chair of the North American Building Trades Union (NABTU) Tradeswomen’s Committee.

Nigerian Presidential Candidate Calls For Overhaul of Nigeria’s Road Infrastructure

The presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, has called for a complete rethink of Nigeria’s road infrastructure.

She believes the roads link people to the markets and consequently, good road networks help to improve productivity and reduce poverty.

Ezekwesili said this when she appeared as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Saturday.

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She made the comments in reaction to the gridlock on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway which she also encountered on Saturday morning.

The ACPN candidate complained about what she described as poor maintenance of the road, despite the ongoing repair works.

She, therefore, called for an increase in budgetary allocation to road networks which she considered as the nation’s economic lifelines.

“This road is the economic artery of the country and there are many things that are going together.

“The poor state of the infrastructure, the poor traffic management system, the challenges of categorization of road users on this kind of a stretch of road, the policy on the weight of usage that happens on the road and maintenance issues.

“We normally call it road governance challenges. So you look at your road governance strategy and there is an issue there.

“This road particularly has a resonance for me because when I was at the world bank, we had a $400 million loan to enable this road be constructed. We had to move some of it towards supporting the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC).

“There has to be a complete rethink of the road strategy in our country.

“When you look at the budget of the country, it’s going to be impossible for us to solve this major problem of roads,” she said.

Her comments come hours after two accidents occurred on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.

One of the accidents which occurred in the early hours of Saturday, involved two trucks and three other cars, killing three persons in the process.

Source:Channels Tv

 

What Nigerian Presidential Aspirant Says About Solving The Housing Crisis

We keep repeating that Nigeria suffers a 17-million units housing deficit. That is simply untrue. The guys who push that rhetoric probably know what they are doing because the figure alarms every government and pushes them into certain suboptimal decisions. The simple way to look at it is that in Nigeria up to 10 human beings (old and young) can live in a house; even in a three bedroom flat, and they’ll not be said to be ‘homeless’. We are not yet that kind of society where a man and woman live with only their children, even though we are getting there.

So, 17 million units of houses could easily translate to us housing a fresh 170 million people, which is our entire population. Are we then saying all Nigerians are presently homeless? Some people have even taken potshots at our population figures and other statistics. Seems like we may not be as many as we say we are. Politics got the better of us as we inflated away in order to get a bigger share of the national cake. Late Professor Ali Mazrui once mocked us for not being able to count ourselves despite being the ‘Giant of Africa’.

And so, in response to this alarming housing deficit, government is pushed into embarking on different schemes on a yearly basis, just as they try and support some builders. The Federal Mortgage Bank has supported many housing schemes around the country. But the reality is that Nigeria has been taking all the wrong decisions and the efforts so far have not had any salutary effect on society. We have been providing what our people don’t need and what they cannot afford. To that extent, in every state capital in Nigeria today are many housing units which are unoccupied, with no hope in sight that they will be any time soon. Yet the housing deficit, which we may now review downwards drastically, remains alarming.

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What countries do is to be honest with themselves in things like this. The housing needs of a country are tied to its education system, it’s pace of development and its culture at large. Countries think of when young children will become adults and start to cater for themselves. They then channel efforts into providing tiny little accommodations that fit the needs of these youngsters who their parents usually show the way out when they are around 18 years old. The general reality is that nations will continue to urbanise as they develop. In many countries around the world, it is not a big deal to attend universities, and youngsters usually become useful to society by learning a trade, skill or craft right after secondary school. Therefore, a youth attending some technical school or training should be able to rent or start the process of owning a tiny studio house. Later on, that same youth may come into his own and decide to get married or just get something bigger and better. Then he wants to move into a one-bedroom or two-bedroom house. And it goes on like that. At the tail end, old people move into smaller units and leave the big duplexes for those in their prime.

Also, rural homes are kept for as long as they can be. Many rural homes have been standing for 300 years, but that is because they were properly constructed and they are not fundamentally compromised. Basic hygiene factors have been reckoned into their construction, such that today they remain functional and help to reduce the housing deficit. Some have even become tourist attractions, earning money for the country.

In Nigeria the system is broken.

Not only do we now all want to attend universities – except in some parts where millions of little children are not even encouraged to attend anything at all (which is a terrible problem when looked at from the perspective above, because unschooled children with no skills are not provided for anywhere in the world). As we crowd into universities, no one gets the much-needed skills around which society revolves. We therefore import plumbers, bricklayers and whatnots from Togo, Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire, where they have been properly trained. Add to this, the great problem of corruption which ensures that our national financial capital is grossly and shamelessly misappropriated and ends up in the hands of an insanely greedy few, instead of being invested in the people as they do elsewhere, and we are set up for a big disaster in the near future.

Rural homes? Sorry. Most of them are falling where they stand today, having been almost totally eroded and corroded over time. There were no standards set when these houses were being built – mostly around the early 20th Century and in response to the stimulus of the colonial influence. The trend of building houses with bad ventilation and, of course, no provision for hygiene issues, has continued till date in the rural areas. These are houses that easily succumb to the element – thunder strikes (they will say it’s their enemies), heavy downpours and floods, as well as simple erosion. Could the government have helped standardise the mud houses to make them more durable? Yes they could. But they didn’t. So instead of having tourist centres, we have building collapse to deal with. It’s not as if we understand the value of these things. The old Brazilian House in the Tinubu area of Lagos Island was recently demolished to make way for a shopping plaza. Who cares?

Navigating the Psychology

Let us also look at our psychology as a people. As folks who expect magic in everything, we no longer do things gradually. There’s npw nothing like climbing the step rung by rung – from a studio apartment to one bedroom house to two, three and then if lucky, a duplex. We believe God has ordained for us to ‘dominate’ the world, and so, from squatting with people, we want to build our own house. Our culture also holds that anyone who cannot boast of a house of his own is a failure. We also believe the bigger your house, the bigger your success. Many Nigerians live for the image they portray outside.

 

At least I know a bit about a place like the UK and also Singapore. In the UK, you get registered with your local council and apply for a place to live in. They have several arrangements where you can get a fairly easy rent as you wait for your own allocation. Everybody is eventually on a mortgage, so you are not expected to pay fully for a house, where you are lucky to get one. A five percent or 10 percent down payment is enough and the rest is spread over 25 or so years. In Singapore, the challenge they had was with space. And so they knew that they had to develop vertically. Almost every Singaporean today lives in those skyscrapers and nobody feels like a failure for living among other people in housing provided by the government or private developers.

The Core Issues

One, the private developers in Nigeria, and even the government, have tried to focus on mortgage lately. Sorry, ko le werk. We have not organised ourselves for the mortgage idea. Too many people are out of work and the educational system has been deliberately broken by you-know-whom. Too many are eking a living by being street-traders, ‘hustling’ or owning some small business with irregular cash flow. We have no pool of artisans and ‘handwork’ is seen as failure! No deliberate policy has been targeted at actively reorganising society in this regard. So how do we support a mortgage system when people have no steady salary? Mortgage is based on predictability. Our lack of organisation is also the reason why a secondary market for housing – or anything else – is hardly existent, compared with, say, in the UK, where Capital Gains Tax on properties sold yearly for profit, nets at least 5 billion pounds sterling (N2.5trillion), mostly from London. When you gross it up (since CGT is around 28 percent in the UK), that means over 25 billion pounds sterling worth of property is sold yearly in the UK. That is like $33 billion or twice Nigeria’s annual budget.

Two, Nigeria has wasted trillions upon trillions on luxury housing, most of which are sitting and collapsing where they stand today. Housing business is sweet. It is great and exhilarating to transform spaces, to transform jungles into neat luxury estates and all that. The problem is that usually developers go for the kill. They price their houses at perhaps five times the cost of putting up their units. That is 400 percent profit. Again, only a few can afford those kinds of houses. Not up to 100,000 are employed in Nigeria’s financial sector, for example (including banks, stockbroking firms, insurance firms, central bank, regulators etc), and the figure is dwindling with all sorts of layoffs these days. Less than half of that is employed in Nigeria’s oil sector – private and public sector. The entire population of middle and upper-classers in Nigeria is not up to 800,000 (including their spouses, children, brothers and sisters). This is 800,000 (a generous figure) out of 170 million or whichever figure we decide to believe in. Only 1 in 20 Nigerians can be said to be truly comfortable, such as to afford a house built by private developers. 1 in 20 could even be too generous.

Even if it is 800,000, these are people that also know there are opportunities for them to buy their own land and build, rather than buy from a expensive developer. Many are not wired to depend on developers at all. This is why there is no traction from that sector on which many developers depended. Many of these middle and upper classers have, however, already bought quite a number of these hyper-expensive properties with the hope of renting (I recall cringing as a pal from the oil sector bought two three-bedroom flats for N55 million each in some obscure place in Abuja about four years ago! I couldn’t convince him otherwise). A downturn in the economy ensured that they are the people sitting on those properties today. Where they get tenants, the hassle of obtaining their yearly rents is another thing. We didn’t learn from the subprime mortgage crash in the USA to know that it is untrue that house prices never fall. They do fall. Though if you refuse to reduce prices because you want to hold on to a myth, the houses just dilapidate in your hands. More than 300,000 housing units lie fallow all over Abuja as I write. Most of them are ‘luxury’. And they are pitiably falling apart. If you see their states today, you will weep.

 

Three. It is the role of government to take a lead on this. They have to set the direction. They may not be able to influence developers in setting prices, but they should care about prototypes. What types of buildings should we be focusing on? Which demographic do we have a problem with? Over 70 percent of Nigerians presently crawl out of stinky ghettos with zero infrastructure every morning – including those with some sort of corporate jobs. As a people, we haven’t yet set the standards and outlawed some kind of despicable living. Perhaps that is where to start. The last real attempt at mass housing ended with Lateef Jakande in 1983. There is no plan for the lowest among us. If Singapore built up, we also need to determine how we will house our large population. The USA also built the Projects in the 80s. What plans do we have for our youth and not-so-young? Why have we left our poorest to live in conditions that will irritate even the beasts of the wild? The world is watching us, mouth agape. We need to positively outlaw the spread of urban ghetto sprawls.

The Ghetto Squad Have Won

But the truth on ground is that the ghetto squads have won! In a place like Abuja, Mallam El-Rufai, when he was a minister, announced on national TV that anyone earning less than N50,000 monthly should leave Abuja and go back to their villages. That was around 2003. He demolished many shanty houses and rendered 500,000 homeless (according to UN Refugee Commission figures then). His successors, Adamu Aliero and Bala Mohammed also demolished their own tens of thousands. The new gentleman there says he will not demolish though. True, demolition is not the solution, but what plans do we have?

And so we are back to an era where the mentality of our people have solidified. In Abuja, the Federal Capital, just as it is in many other towns across the country, the poor have taken position and are now unshakeable. They have seen it all and are ready to dare the government. They aren’t going anywhere. They continue to buy land from dodgy unofficial quarters and ghetto houses are springing up by the thousands everywhere; badly built, and defacing the layout of the land. The sprawls are expanding. The government is absent. And this is year 2017, where other countries are thinking but Nigeria is asleep.

It occurred to me to write this when I visited an abandoned housing estate around Aleyita in Abuja. Aleyita is one of Abuja’s 100s of ghetto settlements. It must have been demolished a few times. But it stands. And today, it’s thriving. The corporate guys who thought they could use the power of big money to crowd out the ghetto without making any alternative plans for the millions who dwell therein are tired and defeated. It seems they no longer have access to cheap money or cheap loans to continue their luxury estates. And so, the people of Aleyita today freely use the middle of the abandoned, half-complete luxury estate of about 200 duplexes as thoroughfare. All over Abuja, the slums and shanties are growing. From Apo, to Asokoro to Maitama. From Utako, to Jabi, Wuse and all over Garki; not to talk of Mpape, Dawaki, Gwarimpa and into Suleija, Gwagwalada, Nyanya and Mararaba, millions of our people are eking some sort of survival since their country doesn’t give a hoot and their leaders are on vacation. They actually don’t expect anything from their leaders. Ignorance is bliss. Somehow, the super big men who planned Abuja, and who superintend over our other big cities never gave a thought to where those little men who serve them as drivers, cleaners, cooks, chaperons and so on, should live. They just never cared. Yet the true measure of development is to get these less privileged people to live properly and appreciate the good life. It’s pretty basic stuff. Instead we are consolidating the gains of income inequality by expanding luxury estates on one hand, and vast urban slums on the other. We are setting ourselves up for disaster.

Still one day, some crazy minister will embark on new demolitions in Abuja, without alternative plans. On that day, I shudder at what will happen since the people are now totally disconnected and patriotism has since departed from us. All is fair in love and war.

Source:Premium Times

How to solve the housing deficit in Abuja

HOUSING crisis is a huge issue for the poor and the working people in Abuja with more than half of the population living in precarious houses.  We have 1.7 million housing deficit. Given the fact that it is both fundamental and constitutional requirement, the Nigerian government had formulated a National Housing Policy in 1991 to ease the provision of adequate, accessible and low-cost housing for the poor and the working people.

Yet, millions are homeless, while others live in homes that have been precariously built in terrible places that have life threatening environment in the Federal Capital Territory, no thanks to the capitalist government. The FCT Minister, Muhammad Bello had announced at the 12th Abuja Housing Show in Abuja on July 16, 2018 that the National Housing Policy which made provisions for adequate, accessible and affordable housing have been amended in 2004. He claimed that a more market-oriented approach had been adopted which limit the role of public sector and allow more private sector to participate in direct housing provision.

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What that implies is the fact that getting decent and affordable housing by the poor and the working people has been shattered. Thus, the poor and the working people have continued to expend more than 60 percent of their disposable income on house rent as a direct consequence of a huge housing deficit in Abuja. Equally, most people live on the streets, in the slum area(s), and in far away communities where they can get cheap and but precarious houses. About 88 per cent of those working in the Abuja Municipal Area Council, AMAC, do not live within the major towns in AMAC, and the reason for this is unaffordability of the rent and associated high cost of living.

In a place like Wuse2, two bedroom flat ranges from N2million to N2.5million and more, while in Maitama it could go as high as N10million to N11million as compared to similar two bedrooms flat in Jikwoyi which is around N180 thousand to N200 thousand and in Karu N250thousand to N400 thousand, etc. Today, what is visible is rising rent, vacant houses and homeless people in every part of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Many of the houses in communities and streets are owned by top-ranking elements among the ruling class and most of these houses are not occupied.

The government unleashed attacks on them through the so-called Environmental Sweeps which chase after homeless people every day and night. We also have cases where poor people have been literally thrown out because they can not pay the high-rising rent. Meanwhile, many houses lack even basic facilities such as water, sewage, electricity, while other are substandard, tiny and overcrowded. According to the current AMAC Chairman, Mr. Abdulahi Candido, in a budget report which was reported by Premium Times on January 11, 2018, the amount budgeted to the works and housing department was N1.8 billion. Despite being the highest, this in the real sense does not reflect in the supervision or provision of any critical infrastructure which can make life easy for the working people and the poor.

For instance, aside major roads in Abuja, there are no other motorable roads. This does not only cause fatal accident to the populace in most villages and communities in Abuja, but also have negative effects on the movement of agricultural or farm produce to the city. This is due to lack of accessible roads which create economic losses for the farmers, and continues to impoverish such farmers. Ironically, this is happening in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja where N6.92 billion was budgeted for 2018 fiscal year. As a socialist, I believe this is not accidental, it is due to long term and continuous implementation of neo-liberal policies by the Nigeria governments which have grossly underfunded the housing sectors as well as promote private interest at the expense of the housing needs of all.

The Socialist Party of Nigeria, SPN, will if is elected, therefore, massively invest in housing and regulation of house rents in the heart of Abuja. The party will create jobs for people that have technical skills. SPN members are contesting on the salaries of workers. It is the belief of the party that if privileges enjoyed by political class are reduced, along with cancellation of security votes, and end to fraudulent contract system, these will be invested massively on affordable housing. The party also plans to implement free and quality education, free and quality health services at all levels, and also employ Nigerians with at least N30,000 as minimum wage without retrenchment.

Source:vanguard

Carbon emissions level from buildings skyrockets – UN

Heat-trapping emissions from buildings and construction appear to have peaked at a global level, the United Nations said on Friday, December 7, 2018.

This is a trend that could encourage countries to take up the issue more aggressively as a way of curbing climate change.

Greenhouse gas emissions have been attributed to buildings levelled off over 2015-2017.

However, they still represent about a third of the global emissions that cause climate change, a report by UN Environment and its partners said.

The finding is a rare bright spot amid a spate of warnings that not enough is being done to stop the planet heating up.

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Global carbon emissions are set to rise nearly three per cent this year due to continued fossil fuel use, scientists said this week.

The statement dashes hope that an increase in 2017 was temporary after two years of slowdown.

The UN Environment report called for more pledges to make building construction greener, in national climate action plans submitted for the 2015 Paris Agreement to curb climate change.

“It’s a very complex field, but one that’s absolutely critical,” Nick Nuttall, a UN Environment spokesman told reporters on the sidelines of U.N. climate talks in Poland.

Delegates from more than 190 nations’ party to the Paris Agreement are gathered in the Polish city of Katowice to meet an end-of-year deadline to agree rules on how to enforce the pact.

The “rule book”, as it is known, is expected to include details about how countries will report and monitor curbs on greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen their national plans.

A positive outcome at the negotiations could encourage governments to double down on promises to cut emissions from the construction industry, said Nuttall.

“That might increase the enthusiasm of nations to revise their (action plans),” he said.

“If they’re revised upwards to include the building and construction sector, then what happens here will have a very strong impact on the sector being able to move forward faster.”

To encourage energy-efficient buildings, the national plans could push for better insulation and windows by aspiring to revamp building codes and set up energy certification schemes.

They could also plan to lower emissions from common building materials like cement and steel whose manufacturing generates large amounts of carbon, the report said.

Even if such rules require consumers to open their wallets to retrofit a home, for example.

It is unlikely to cause the kind of public anger seen recently in France over fuel taxes, said Jennifer Layke, global director for energy with the Washington-based World Resources Institute.

Higher fuel taxes proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron to fight climate change have stoked violent protests in the European nation, forcing the government to shelve the plan this week.

“If you told everyone they had to spend 1,000 dollars next month to renovate their home, you would see a backlash,” said Layke.

But most countries had “proven strategies” to help consumers shoulder the costs, such as financing or rebates, she said.

In June, the European Union gave its member states 20 months to put into law a goal to dramatically increase the energy efficiency of buildings by 2050.

Source: EnviroNews

AfDB earmarks $220m for projects in Nigeria

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has earmarked $220 million for various intervention projects in the country.

President of AfDB, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, said this at the official launch of Inclusive Basic Service Delivery and Livelihood Empowerment Integrated Programme (IBSIP) in Abuja on Thursday, December 6, 2018.

Adesina was represented by the Senior Director of the bank, Mr Ebrima Faal.

He explained that $20 million would be approved soon by the management of the bank, for its programme designed as “say no to famine” by addressing food insecurity and malnutrition.

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He said that $200 million which had been approved by the management would be used for rural electrification projects across the country.

“The Say No to famine will address challenges of food insecurity and malnutrition in conflict affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe with the means to resume agriculture-based and environment friendly livelihoods.

“The project will set the foundations for longer-term resilience building and sustainable economic and social development.

“This will be achieved through the combination of skills development and productive measures supported in the same locations by conditional voucher food support.

“The Nigeria electrification project is countrywide and aimed at delivering energy access to unserved and underserved communities in the country.

“The project will provide electricity to households, small to medium sized enterprises and public institutions at a least cost and timely manner through off and mini grid solutions.

“The project comprises the provision of solar hybrid mini grids for rural economic development, productive appliances and equipment for off grid communities and energising institutions.

“Adamawa state is included as one of the states to benefit in the first phase of the programme,” he said.

Source:Environews

Japan has opposite problem to Nigeria:It is giving houses away for free

A free house may sound like a scam. But Japan faces an unusual property problem: it has more homes than people to live in them.

In 2013, there were 61 million houses and 52 million households, according to the Japan Policy Forum. And the situation is poised to get worse.

Japan’s population is expected to decline from 127 million to about 88 million by 2065, according to the National Institute of Population and Social Security, meaning even fewer people will need houses. As young people leave rural areas for city jobs, Japan’s countryside has become haunted by deserted “ghost” houses, known as “akiya.”

It’s predicted that by 2040, nearly 900 towns and villages across Japan will no longer exist — and Okutama is one of them. In that context, giving away property is a bid for survival.

“In 2014, we discovered that Okutama was one of three Tokyo (prefecture) towns expected to vanish by 2040,” says Kazutaka Niijima, an official with the Okutama Youth Revitalization (OYR) department, a government body set up to repopulate the town.

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Okutama is a two-hour train ride west from Tokyo prefecture’s dense, neon-soaked center.

In the 1960s, it boasted a population of more than 13,000, as well as a profitable timber trade. But after the liberalization of imports and falling demand for timber in the 1990s , most young people left for the city. Today, Okutama has just 5,200 residents.

In 2014, it established an “akiya bank” — or vacant house scheme — which matches prospective buyers with aging homeowners and empty properties. While akiya banks are now common across Japan, each town sets its own conditions.

For example, Okutama subsidizes home repairs for new akiya residents, and encourages akiya owners to relinquish their vacant properties by offering up to $8,820 per 100 square meters (1,076 sq feet).

However, it stipulates that those who receive a free home or renovation assistance must be aged under 40, or be in a couple with at least one child under 18-years-old and one partner aged under 50. Akiya applicants must also commit to settling in the town permanently and invest in upgrading second-hand homes.

But even giving away homes is tough in a country where people prefer new builds.

Second-hand homes

Niijima leads the way into a vacant, box-like house with a blue roof and white walls that was built 33 years ago. Though sturdy on the outside, the musty smell inside hints at the decade it has sat empty. The kitchen is in need of a makeover, and the tatami floor is faded.

“It will suit someone who likes DIY,” Niijima said with a grin.

There are 3,000 homes in Okutama, and about 400 are vacant — only half of which are believed to be salvageable. The rest are either too dilapidated or were built in areas at risk of landslides.

In the 20th century, Japan experienced two major population spikes: the first after World War II and the second during the economic explosion of the 1980s. Both created housing shortages which led to cheap, mass-produced homes that were quickly erected in densely populated towns and cities.

Many of those properties were poor quality, said Hidetaka Yoneyama, a senior researcher at the Fujitsu Research Institute. As a result, about 85% of people opt to buy new homes.

Japanese laws also don’t help things.

In 2015, the government passed a law designed to penalize those who leave houses empty, in a bid to encourage them to either demolish or refurbish their properties. However, akiya owners are taxed more for empty plots of land than for having an empty property, according to real estate expert Toshihiko Yamamoto. This is a deterrent to razing a vacant home.

Urban planning regulations are also weak in Japan, said Chie Nozawa, a professor of architecture at Toyo University in Tokyo, meaning developers can keep building houses despite the glaring surplus.

Making rural areas alluring

In Okutama, revitalization official Niijima has found families for nine vacant houses so far. They’ve come from places including New York and China — the akiya scheme is not limited to Japanese citizens.

Filipino-Japanese couple Rosalie and Toshiuki Imabayashi, who live in central Tokyo with their six children, will move to the town in early 2019.

“It was getting too cramped for us in Tokyo and we liked that Okutama was within the same prefecture but surrounded by nature,” Rosalie said.

For most newcomers, though, free homes are not enough. Depopulated areas like Okutama also need a sustainable economic development plan — and community-building activities between locals and newcomers — if they are to thrive.

“If people can find a way of engaging in productive economic activities and supporting themselves, they will come and stay in rural areas,” said Jeffrey Hou, an architecture professor at Washington University.

Kamiyama, a town in southern Japan,added more people than it lost in 2011 after IT companies set up satellite offices there, attracting workers keen to escape city life.

The ingenuity of new residents is also a boon for fading towns.

Certified as caregivers for the elderly, the Idas knew they would have job opportunities in Okutama. However, in September 2017 they tried a new venture, buying and converting a second-hand “kominka” — a Japanese house more than 100-years-old — into a roadside cafe catering to roving hikers and bikers.

“The beauty of this place lies in retrofitting something that already exists,” said Naoko, inside the cozy cafe, which brims with vintage objects and local craft work. “Some people like this culture and really like old things but they hesitate about committing to rural life.”

On their quiet street, there is another empty house and the home of an elderly woman. Before the Idas came, wild monkeys kept eating the woman’s vegetable patch — now the area is busier, the animals keep their distance.

Yet while Naoko has found a permanent home for herself in Okutama, she shakes her head when asked whether her children see a future there.

“Actually, my eldest daughter says she can’t wait to leave home and rent a place of her own in the city,” she said.

Source:CNN

 

The 10 US states with the worst infrastructure

America relies on a vast network of infrastructure — airports, roads, bridges, freight rail, ports and electric grids — to keep the $18 trillion economy humming. But many of the systems currently in place were built decades ago, and economists say delays and rising maintenance and safety costs are now inhibiting our nation’s economic performance. It’s an issue that President Donald Trump has set his sights on with a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan to address the crisis. He believes infrastructure modernization would have a multiplier effect. Global consulting firm McKinsey estimates that increasing U.S infrasructure spending by 1 percent of GDP would add 1.5 million jobs to the economy.

“Today every American family is losing about $3,400 a year in disposable income due to poor infrastructure,” said Greg DiLoreto, past president of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He is talking about auto repairs, gasoline for the time you spend stuck in traffic, bottled water during an outage — the list goes on.

Infrastructure is important to business, too, which is why it is among the most important categories in CNBC’s exclusive America’s Top States for Business study , worth 400 out of 2,500 points.We use government data to evaluate each state’s roads, bridges, ports, airports, rail networks and utilities.

While some states are finding ways around the crisisothers can only shrug each time a White House Infrastructure Week comes and goes.

Here are America’s 10 worst trouble spots.

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  1. Mississippi

If ever there was a state that could benefit from better infrastructure, it is the Magnolia State . The state has one of the most important stretches of its namesake river, as well as a key Gulf Coast port. Its roads and rails provide key links to the rest of the South. But as it does in so many measures of competitiveness, Mississippi falls short here. The state lags its Gulf Coast neighbors in the value of commodities shipped. Roads and bridges are in bad shape, and air travel options are limited.

2018 Infrastructure score: 172 out of 400 points (Top States Grade: D+)

Deficient bridges: 11.8 percent

Average commute to work: 24.3 minutes (U.S. Average: 25.7 minutes)

Roads in poor or mediocre condition: 51 percent

20-year water-system needs: $4.8 billion

  1. Massachusetts

One of the few things holding the Bay State back from true Top State status is its infrastructure. It also holds back commuters, who spend an inordinate amount of time just getting to and from work. Massachusetts has made some strides maintaining its roads and bridges, but all too often the 230-year-old state shows its age, particularly when it comes to water utilities.

2018 Infrastructure score: 168 out of 400 points (Top States Grade: D+)

Deficient bridges: 9.3 percent

Average commute to work: 29.6 minutes

Roads in poor or mediocre condition: 42 percent

20-year water-system needs: $12.2 billion

  1. New Jersey

Anyone who has sat in New Jersey traffic can tell you the infrastructure in the Garden State is not good. Home to bedroom communities for New York City in the north and Philadelphia in the south — not to mention an economic engine in its own right — New Jersey’s transportation system has more than its share of stress, just as its commuters do. The state is working to address the situation by reconfiguring its historically low gasoline taxes, helping to fund a new state infrastructure bank offering low-interest loans for local projects. But so far, it is just a drop in the bucket. A jarring two-thirds of the state’s roads are in mediocre condition or worse.

2018 Infrastructure score: 164 out of 400 points (Top States Grade: D+)

Deficient bridges: 8.8 percent

Average commute to work: 31.7 minutes

Roads in poor or mediocre condition: 66 percent

20-year water-system needs: $8.6 billion

  1. New York

If New Jersey is on this list, you know New York cannot be far behind. That is despite several very visible infrastructure projects taking shape in the Empire State. They include the new Mario Cuomo Bridge replacing the aging Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River in the New York suburbs, $27 billion in upstate road and bridge repairs and a complete rebuilding of LaGuardia Airport. But at least until those projects are done, New York’s infrastructure is a mess. New Yorkers’ commutes are the longest in the nation. And for all the shiny new projects for all to see, there is a mess underground, and we aren’t talking just about the subway. Water utilities need serious help.

2018 Infrastructure score: 158 out of 400 points (Top States Grade: D)

Deficient bridges: 10.5 percent

Average commute to work: 33.4 minutes

Roads in poor or mediocre condition: 60 percent

20-year water-system needs: $22.8 billion

 

  1. Maryland

The Old Line State is in the heart of one of America’s most economically robust regions. But Maryland’s infrastructure is ill-equipped to handle the activity. In Baltimore, water main breaks remain a daily occurrence. And both greater Baltimore and the U.S. Capital region are perpetually choked by traffic. Gov. Larry Hogan has been pushing a $9 billion highway upgrade package financed largely by tolls. Whatever the state does to pay for the improvements,Maryland needs help. So do its workers, who endure the second-longest commutes in the nation.

2018 Infrastructure score: 157 out of 400 points (Top States Grade: D)

Deficient bridges: 5.6 percent

Average commute to work: 32.8 minutes

Roads in poor or mediocre condition: 55 percent

20-year water-system needs: $9.3 billion

  1. West Virginia

The most rural state on this list,West Virginia has a hard time catching a break. The Mountain State’s economy has improved somewhat in the past year, thanks to an increase in coal production, but state forecasters say that is unlikely to last. Trade tensions with China are threatening to derail a major investment in the state by a Chinese energy company. And all the while, the state’s troubled infrastructure keeps falling further behind. The state’s bridges are in dismal shape with one-fifth deemed structurally deficient. Air travel options are limited.

2018 Infrastructure score: 157 out of 400 points (Top States Grade: D)

Deficient bridges: 19 percent

Average commute to work: 25.4 minutes

Roads in poor or mediocre condition: 47 percent

20-year water-system needs: $2.3 billion

  1. Connecticut

The infrastructure situation in the Nutmeg State is so bad, you could say Connecticut is moving backward. With the state facing a fiscal crisis, Gov. Dannel Malloy had to cancel $4.5 billion in transportation projects last year, proposing instead to restore tolls to the state’s highways for the first time in more than 30 years. That idea, so far, has gone nowhere. As politicians continue to debate, Connecticut roads continue to deteriorate. With nearly three-quarters in poor or mediocre condition, they are in the second worst shape in the nation behind Illinois.

2018 Infrastructure score: 150 out of 400 points (Top States Grade: D)

Deficient bridges: 7.8 percent

Average commute to work: 26.3 minutes

Roads in poor or mediocre condition: 73 percent

20-year water-system needs: $4 billion

  1. Maine

The stereotypical New Englander says, “You can’t get there from here.” In Maine he might really mean it. While the state’s busiest airport, Portland International Jetport, marked a record year in 2017, it offers year-round nonstop flights to only 10 destinations. Granted, the Pine Tree State is known more for lobsters, blueberries and rugged natural beauty than it is for its infrastructure — and that’s how they like it. Still, the state’s bridges are in disrepair, and its freight rail network is in the bottom five for tonnage carried. But commuting is a breeze, and water utilities are in fine shape.

2018 Infrastructure score: 140 out of 400 points (Top States Grade: D-)

Deficient bridges: 13.3 percent

Average commute to work: 23.9 minutes

Roads in poor or mediocre condition: 53 percent

20-year water-system needs: $1.3 billion

  1. New Hampshire

Another New England state with infrastructure problems is the Granite State. Compounding the stress on New Hampshire’s beleaguered roads is that two of the state’s counties are part of the Boston metropolitan area. That helps explain the long average commutes in the state, and the poor state, overall, of New Hampshire’s roads and bridges. But issues extend to the rest of the state, including limited air and rail facilities.

2018 Infrastructure score: 123 out of 400 points (Top States Grade: F)

Deficient bridges: 10.9 percent

Average commute to work: 26.9 minutes

Roads in poor or mediocre condition: 54 percent

20-year water-system needs: $1.9 billion

  1. Rhode Island

As America’s smallest state, Rhode Island is at a natural disadvantage in any national infrastructure ranking. But some of the Ocean State’s problems are of its own making. After all, with only 778 bridges — compared to more than 50,000 in Texas — transportation planners in Rhode Island have comparatively little to worry about. But nearly one-quarter of those bridges are structurally deficient — by far, the worst in the nation. Rhode Island is trying to tackle the problem with Rhode Works, a sweeping, $5 billion overhaul of the state’s transportation system passed in 2016. But these things take time. The program’s goal is to get Rhode Island’s infrastructure into shape by 2025.

2018 Infrastructure score: 100 out of 400 points (Top States Grade: F)

Deficient bridges: 23.2 percent

Average commute to work: 24.8 minutes

Roads in poor or mediocre condition: 70 percent

20-year water-system needs: $1.7 billion

Source:cnbc

 

 

 

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