How Nigeria Can Address its Housing Crisis

Author ~ Ebuka Onunaiwu
Housing is a bundle of joy. Renters and homeless go through moments of stress, distress and uncertainties – Professor Tunde Agbola, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Ibadan.

In the two preceding editions of this series on Nigeria’s journey towards sustainable housing provision, we analysed the state of housing in Nigeria in edition I and compared what is obtainable with regards to housing in a highly populated country like China in edition II. In this third and final edition the emphasis is on proposing feasible solutions to bridge the housing deficit and forestall the nation’s housing crisis.

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What We Need
A review of how various countries such as Finland, China, the United States of America and the United Kingdom, have managed the housing demands in their countries has shown that in these areas, housing is largely a social service; and that the most successful countries in managing housing are those that have embraced “social housing”. Hence, I would join voices with scholars like Professor Gbenga Nubi of the Faculty of Environmental Sciences, University of Lagos and Prof. Tunde Agbola, to attest that social housing is the antidote to Nigeria’s housing crisis.

Social housing in simple terms refers to housing owned and managed by the state, non-profit organisations or a combination of both, usually with the aim of providing affordable housing. Social housing is usually directed towards low income earners, it focuses on social service delivery and is not motivated by profit-maximiszation. The aim of social housing is to ensure that housing, which is a basic need, is sufficiently provided for all especially those at the bottom of the economic pyramid. You may read ‘social housing in Nigeria’ by Wole Aboderin, who extensively addressed the subject matter.

The first attribute needed to solve any housing crisis issue is strong political will. This is the starting point and the root of any housing drive but has been lacking in Nigeria’s housing sector. Beyond the formulation of new policies to guide the activities of the sector, the decision makers in the sector must determine in earnest that the sector needs radical changes. What is currently needed is the kind of political will that saw to the building of mass housing estates by the Jakande-led administration in Lagos State, Nigeria, in the space of approximately 5 years. The kind of political will that has enabled Finland stand out among other European nations in bringing solution to homelessness using the Housing First strategy.

The Process
There are three critical aspects of a social housing strategy such as the implementation, funding and the models for the housing units. Implementation of social housing for other nations has been driven mainly by partnership between government and organisations from the not-for-profits, private sector and those in the academia to drive research. To solve Nigeria’s housing crisis, there is need to bring together the best brains in the sector, who are willing to work towards the long-term achievement of success in the sector. This has been so in many other regions. For instance: Y-Foundation an NGO with over 16,000 apartments, is a prominent partner in Finland; and Volunteers of America is an active housing partner in the State of Utah, US. In Nigeria, we have credible resource persons like Profs. Nubi and Agbola, another notable resource person is Prof. Fabienne Hoelzel, co-founder of Fabulous Urban, the organisation that developed the Makoko-Iwaya Regeneration Plan. We can bring onboard Chinwe Ohajuruka, whose affordable housing model is used as a case study in the latter part of this article; and, Bolaji Agunbiade, another sustainable building solutions provider whose interview is found in the latter part of this article as well. As it is in every other sector, Nigeria does not suffer from a dearth of human capital in the housing sector.

As one of the basic needs of humans, the housing sector should be funded as much as other critical sectors like education and health. The funding of any social housing scheme is usually a cooperative work, mainly by the government at all levels in collaboration with private sector, not-for-profits and individuals. This would involve increasing the annual allocation to the housing sector, and setting up of a functional housing financing department/scheme. In Finland’s Housing First scheme, the government provides grants for housing advice services (a maximum of 35 percent of the costs). Another adoptable funding model can be seen in China’s housing fund.

In a way, this Fund works like the Nigerian pension fund in which employees and employers co-contribute to a pension account. A part of the Housing Fund, included a savings plan initiated by the government in which employees are given the option to contribute a portion of their monthly wages and have it matched by their employer to assist them with buying a house. This has contributed positively to mortgage acquisition in China, as prospective home owners are able to make the required 30% down payment.

In the same way that the government attempts to attract investors to various sectors of the economy, they should take similar steps in the housing sector. Funding summit for housing should be held in major cities in Nigeria, in collaboration with private sectors, grant givers, impact investors and philanthropists; incorporating transparency and stakeholder participation in the fund management.

Previous studies have found that when housing is not only covering the poorest, there is greater political support and more funds. Hence, social housing in Nigeria need not focus on the poor alone but also on a broader spectrum of people in the middle class. This has been achieved in places like Sweden, Singapore and Hong Kong by encouraging mixed-class tenancy in the housing estates. This has also been found beneficial to intercultural integration in multiethnic regions.

The Models
A very crucial aspect of any social housing discussion is the model of the house. If the government opts for social housing, there is need to answer questions such as: which building materials should be used? Where could the building materials be sourced? What is the cost of building materials? How much (financially and environmentally) does the total building project cost? and which models are sustainable and can produce the highest gains (in terms of quality and quantity) at the cheapest possible cost? To address the above questions, we may need to consider the following two case studies on sustainable and affordable housing models:

Case Study I: Cellular Lightweight Concrete
In an exclusive interview with a Bolaji Agunbiade, the co-founder of Ziegel – a building solutions company, he gave insights into his company’s sustainable building solution. The South Africa based Real Estate firm has been managed by Bolaji for 12 years. The company’s affordable and sustainable building solution is called ‘Cellular lightweight Concrete’ (CLC) (or “Aerated Concrete). The CLC is generated by combining cement with certain additives. The method which has existed for years has now been made easier to deploy with modern technology, whether in single or large sites. The CLC is a better building material as it is lighter than concrete or block, fireproof, waterproof, insulated (both sound and temperature), easier to deploy to site and 60% faster than brick and mortar.

On costing, Bolaji said the CLC method has similar costings to the traditional methods due to the use of similar materials such as (cement, sand/gravel, water, iron rods/mesh and others), and in-place of blocks additives are used. However, it still comes out cheaper using the CLC methods as a lot of savings can be realised from the time saved. According to him, the Governor of Lagos State recently signed a multi-billion-naira contract with Eco-Stone, a Nigerian company proposing to deploy CLC technology sourced from the USA to deliver housing in Lagos State. This he believes will be the first of many.

Bolaji believes that having just the CLC technology is not enough, how it is deployed is key and that is where the problem is and needs to be addressed. A small builder should be able to deploy the technology to site for a single project and that is what Zeigel brings to the table for critical stakeholders. He projected that in the next 10 years, CLC technology will become cheaper to deploy, and self-sustaining as the materials should would be sourced locally.

Case Study II: Passive House Prototype
“Affordable green housing could well be the silver bullet to address the triple bottom line for sustainable [housing] development in Nigeria” – Chinwe Ohajuruka

In 2012, Ms. Chinwe Ohajuruka and a team of sustainable development professionals entered an African Diaspora Business plan competition organised by USAID and Western Union for Africans wanting to do meaningful and innovative development in their home countries. Their entry titled “Renewable Energy through the Vehicle of Affordable Housing” emerged as one of the 17 winners of the competition. The innovation engineered by Chinwe and her team was called “Passive House Prototype” and refers to a rigorous, voluntary standard for energy in a building, reducing its ecological footprint.

However, according to Chinwe and her team, in the Nigerian clime a “Passive House Prototype (PHP)” is “A building that uses 50 – 75% less energy than a similar building in a similar location”. The PHP is an energy-efficient affordable housing, designed as an upgrade to the popular “Face-Me-I-Face-You” housing model in Nigeria. This model is the most affordable in Nigerian urban centres but also hosts some of the most unhealthy and unideal living conditions.

With the support of the funding from the competition and the Rivers State government, in 2013, Chinwe and her team built some PHPs in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria. The typical characteristics of the built PHPs include one living room, one bedroom, one kitchen, one bathroom, circulation/storage. Each building could accommodate 4 units for 4 families on a single minimum-sized plot of land. The average construction time and cost for each building is 3 months and N9 million (at N2.25 million per unit) respectively. Although, with economies of scale, 10 or more PHPs could go as low as N7.5million. The PHPs come with added benefits of clean (solar) energy, potable water, and improved sanitation.

Another remarkable aspect of the project is that it follows a Rent-to-Own agreement, hence, the occupants start by renting the homes and work towards full ownership of the homes. Chinwe noted that the success of the project was largely enabled by the collaboration and support of the Rivers State Government, especially the Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority. She also stated that more opportunities can be provided by the provision of housing microfinance and micro-mortgages even from traditional cooperative like ‘Esusu’, and corporate social responsibility by businesses.

Information for case study II was sourced from Henrich Boll Stiftung Nigeria

From case study II, a comfortable housing unit along with services such as portable water and solar power can be provided for low and middle-income families at N2.25 million. With more research, better and cheaper local housing solutions can emerge but there is need for the right political will to drive other aspects such as the implementation process, funding and models for social housing.

With social and affordable housing, there is a great opportunity to meet the housing deficit in Nigeria if government and private stakeholders can deliberately and collaboratively act to develop the housing sector in the country. There are also opportunities for social entrepreneurs and impact investors that want to align profit with societal good and value creation. By working together, these groups can change the narratives in the housing sector by making long-term investments in the provision of affordable housing in urban centres in Nigeria.

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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

House of Reps constitutes advisory committee to amend COREN Act

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why buildings collapse, by SON, Lafarge, others

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UNDP to donate 292 houses to Borno IDPs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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