Five key trends for the building industry in 2018

Construction industry expert Saeed Al Abbar, of leading Dubai-based consultancy AESG and Chairman of the Emirates Green Building Council, talks us through what he expects to be the key topics and trends for 2018.

Over $85bn worth of building contracts were handed out across the GCC last year, and with a yearly increase of 7% that upward trend should continue through 2018. There can be no doubt that the Middle East is one one of the key regions, globally, for the construction industry.

Read More: WHY YOU SHOULD EXHIBIT AT THE 12TH ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW

One of the region’s specialist consulting and commissioning firms, AESG, has been a major beneficiary of the GCC building boom, with the company doubling in size over the course of the last calendar year. Some organisations struggle with that scope of change, but AESG seems to have taken the growth in its stride. However, Managing Director Saeed Al Abbar insists that the company isn’t “growing for growth’s sake”, and that growth has been a by-product of success rather than a goal in and of itself.

“We didn’t really set out to double in size in 2017, but it did happen,” he reflects. “I think it’s with the ambition our team has. Everyone wants to strive to be the best at what they do, and naturally with that, you tend to work on bigger projects. I think a testament of that is that 80-85% of our work is repeat work. If we were truly focused purely on growth, we would be spending a lot more time and assets on advertising, but it’s more that if clients grow, we grow with them. So that’s been the path we’ve had.”

Al Abbar is a passionate advocate of sustainable development and green building techniques and has consequently presented at a number of local, regional and international conferences as well as authoring a number of papers on the issue.

Al Abbar recognises that flexibility is paramount to survive in this industry, as is the experience of having been involved in over 300 projects. He outlines what are, in his opinion, the key trends for the building industry in the year ahead.

Zero and near-zero energy buildings

Since the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, we have started to see a move towards the decarbonisation of the global economy and according to the terms of that, building stock has to reach net-zero by 2050, and preferably a great deal sooner.

The building industry is already having to adapt and this is something that Al Abbar believes is set to continue. In fact, he thinks the idea of zero and near-zero buildings becoming more widespread is something we should expect to happen sooner rather than later.

“It’s something we need to achieve,” he says, passionately. “Under the auspices of the Paris climate change agreement… we need to be, by 2050, effectively getting to net zero. That’s not very far away, so that’s one thing that needs to happen. But I think where there’s a need, the industry is able to innovate to meet that need. I think it’s definitely feasible (that the construction zero and near-zero buildings will become more widespread). We’re working on prototype designs, and we’ve proven it from the technical feasibility perspective. Now we’re trying to optimise it to be cost-effective so we can demonstrate it as commercially feasible as well.”

Fire and life safety

Perhaps one of the most obvious themes is fire safety after a number of high-profile façade fires globally. Al Abbar says it’s vital for developers to manage their liability and safeguard their investments, both when it comes to new projects and existing developments. He also believes it will become increasingly necessary for fire and life safety teams to work together with façade teams to ensure that the façade designs themselves follow best practices for fire safety.

“The façade does present a fire risk for the building,” says Al Abbar. “Now there’s been a number of high-profile unfortunate incidents, it’s come to the fore and created a lot more focus around it. It’s something that can be overcome with good engineering, good materials.

“The cost of insurance is going up because of façade fires. Those developers who haven’t considered fire safety in their façade will stand to pay even higher premiums because there’s a higher risk.

“I think it’s going to be driven into developers that this is something they need to do to safeguard their investment. Likewise, with the codes. Codes internationally are being upgraded to address this risk, so it’s going to become an essential part of design.”

Commissioning

Modern buildings are exceedingly complex and any which are not properly commissioned will use upwards of 25% more energy than they would have used, as well as not functioning to their optimum capacity. For Al Abbar, a mechanical engineering graduate, this is very much a bugbear that is all too prevalent within the industry. He does believe though, that with more companies using third parties which specialise in commissioning, the problem is being mitigated somewhat.

“The historic practices of allowing MEP contractors to carry out their own testing and commissioning is like asking school children to mark their own exam papers, without the teacher verifying that they have marked their work correctly or honestly,” he remarks.

“Take the electromechanical systems in any building, which can be roughly 40% of the cost of the actual project. It can be $400-500mn in terms of equipment. If you don’t commission and test that correctly, it’s almost a wasted investment because things aren’t working as they’re supposed to.

“We see a lot of projects now that have faced issues where things are inadequately commissioned; they’ve got equipment working but not optimally, or not working at all. Most developers, however, are now employing the services of third party commissioning specialists to manage and oversee the commissioning process right from the start of design until handover.

“We’ve definitely seen an improvement in the approaches and professionalism taken to commissioning, which is something we’ve been advocating for a number of years now,” adds Al Abbar.

Value engineering

Within the construction industry, increasing importance has been placed on value engineering and innovation and Al Abbar says that has been reflected by the emergence of consultancy service providers and contractors, whose approach to value engineering is led by technical specialists and supported by cost consultants, rather than the other way around. He strongly believes it will be the companies which integrate value engineering into their processes, able to provide more value at a lower cost to the client, that will be successful over the coming year.

“I think we’ve had value engineering here for a good 10-15 years,” he reflects. “It’s generally driven by cost experts, where they’ve had a schedule of costs and are trying to remove things from it. I think we’ve seen the consequences of that and they’re not very positive.

“Basically, by removing cost, you’re removing value. It’s not really value engineering. What I think we’re going to see, and what we’ve been championing and working with clients on, is value engineering driven through the design, supported by the cost experts. So, we work together to say: ‘okay this facade has this function to achieve… what’s the most cost-effective way of doing that?’, rather than saying: ‘let’s just remove items from the project specifications to save cost.’”

Management of existing assets

The final topic Al Abbar expects to come to the fore this year is the importance of properly managing existing assets. Buildings are always ageing, and he says the demand for recommissioning the mechanical, electrical, fire and life safety and even façade systems of older buildings is becoming more and more common.

To do that properly, he explains, needs “a holistic diagnosis of all systems in the building is required to ensure their proper functionality”, including a thorough review of vital systems such as air conditioning, the building management system (BMS) and fire and life safety systems. Organisations that decide to take this up in 2018 would do well to treat BMS as the starting point,” says Al Abbar. “As this is not only where building systems are orchestrated, but BMS will also help pinpoint where systems are not working in harmony. This validates that the building systems provide a safe and healthy environment for occupants, and also provides significant energy savings.

“I think it’s evolving, but there’s still a long way to go. The leading developers with multiple assets that are around for some time are seeing the importance and value of good asset management. As the maturity kicks into the market, not just here, but globally, I think we’ll see more of it.”

So, what will all this mean?

The main focus for companies this year has to be ensuring they have an awareness of the changes in the industry and the refocusing which has happened in certain areas of the market.

Al Abbar believes that “those who ignore the tides of change will be left behind”.

He concludes: “I think globally, in every industry, we’re seeing the rates of change so fast, faster than it has ever happened before.

“You take the taxi industry, which has been stagnant for years and now it’s been completely disrupted with the challenges of increased competition, increased globalisation, lower liquidity in the market, internal pressures and challenges, alongside the perfect storm of changes to technology and approaches to digitalisation. Every industry is evolving so quickly, and the cycles every two or four years reinvent themselves, and if you’re not able to do that then it’s going to be a struggle. I think it’s something we take quite seriously, not to rest on our laurels. Be aware of what’s coming up around the corner because it comes around a lot quicker than we’ve all been used to.”

Construction to play prominent role in Irish economy

Ireland’s National Planning Framework and National Development Plan was revealed on 16 February.

Both documents heavily feature plans for more investment into construction and infrastructure.

The nation has been neglecting the industry for 10 years, which has landed it at the bottom of the EU’s table, claims the Irish Times.

With the National Planning Framework being backed by legislature, the country may see investment from the government powering its economy.

However, there are concerns that Ireland’s construction industry is not large enough to support the ambitious plans.
EY/DKM consultants and SOLAS predicted in 2016 that the country would require an additional 112,000 employees in the sector by 2020 to meet housing and infrastructure demand.

Following this prediction, the ESRI has forecast an increase of housing output of 30%, rising to 35,000 newly constructed houses per year.

Read More: WHY YOU SHOULD EXHIBIT AT THE 12TH ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW

According to the Independent, Ireland is also anticipated to grow in terms of population – the nation is expected to rapidly expand by 150,000 people in 10 years’ time.

DKM expects that by 2026, the population over the age of 60 will reach 1.1mn – in this case, it is predicted that Ireland will require at least three new hospitals to manage the older generations in the country.

LafargeHolcim to invest $213mn into India growth strategy

The Swiss building materials manufacturer, LafargeHolcim, has announced its plans to commit SHF200mn (US$213mn) to Indian investment.

The firm is to construct a new cement plant, locacted in the Rajasthan state in the north of the country.

The plant will serve customers across the North of India, with Delhi anticipated to be a larger consumer.

The plant will be developed by Ambuja Cement, a subsidiary of LafargeHolcim.

The company aims for the facility to have a clinker capacity of 3.1mn tonnes per annum.
“India is the second biggest global cement market and is forecasted to continue to see high growth rates,”remarked Group CEO of LafargeHolcim, Jan Jenisch.

Read More: WHY YOU SHOULD EXHIBIT AT THE 12TH ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW

“We are excited to invest in this highly attractive market to further strengthen our footprint and to reinforce our leading building materials position in India.”

LafargeHolcim aims for the plant to be commissioned by the second half of 2020.

The firm has a total cement capacity of more than 60mn tonnes across India through its two subsidiaries – Ambuja Cement and ACC Limited.

The Swiss company have contributed more than CHF8bn ($8.54bn) to it’s Indian operations, becoming one of the nation’s largest foreign investors.

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.

Read More: WHY YOU SHOULD EXHIBIT AT THE 12TH ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW

“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.

Read More: WHY YOU SHOULD EXHIBIT AT THE 12TH ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW

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.

Read More: WHY YOU SHOULD EXHIBIT AT THE 12TH ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW

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.

Read More: WHY YOU SHOULD EXHIBIT AT THE 12TH ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW

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.

Read More: WHY YOU SHOULD EXHIBIT AT THE 12TH ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW

“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.

Read More: WHY YOU SHOULD EXHIBIT AT THE 12TH ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW

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.

Read More: WHY YOU SHOULD EXHIBIT AT THE 12TH ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW

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.

WP Facebook Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com
Translate »

You have successfully subscribed to our newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Housing News will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.