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NBA commences protest against land use charge

THE Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Ikeja Branch on Tuesday commenced a protest against the reviewed Land Use Charge Law in Lagos.

The protest generated speculations as to whether it would go on.

But Mr Adesina Ogunlana, the branch Chairman took to his Facebook page on Monday assuring that it will go on as planned.

Attempts by the Lagos police boss to stop the protest also failed but the police agreed to provide security cover.

Addressing the protesters this morning, Mr Ogulana urged them to be peaceful and focus on the objective of the strike, which he said is a clear no to the oppressive tax regime.

Lagos begins audit of buildings’ plan permits

Fresh moves are being made by the Lagos authorities to restore sanity to the built environment and further curb cases of building collapse and its attendant loss of lives and property in the state.
Under the new initiative supervised by the Lagos State Building Control Agency, (LASBCA), the agency is carrying out post construction audit exercise on all existing building to ascertain their status and determine the validity of development permits.

The government has already begun the circulation of letters to residents associations. The letter urged all owners/developers to forward their development permit to the nearest LASBCA office in their respective locations.

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The letter signed on behalf of the General Manager of LASBCA by Olalekan Shodeinde, warned that any owner/developer that fails to submit the development permit within two-weeks of the notice will be served due statutory notices and compelled to obtain the development permit in line with the Lagos State Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law 2010.

The State Government had earlier last week officially announced granting a six- month grace period to allow property owners and developers, with existing developments or those wishing to commence construction but are yet to perfect their land title, obtain planning permits and approvals, without penalty.

Speaking on the development, the Chairman, Lekki Residents Association, Lekki Phase I, Prof. Ajose Olumide said; “What is the government recertifying for? We don’t understand what the government is after”, he said.

He lamented that many issues have come to the association at the same time. For instance; he said the question of the land use charge, the toll gate, and the post construction audit exercise.

Prof. Olumide stated that government needs to educate the people more about what it’s doing before issuing out ultimatum, adding that the association was trying to address the issue of the land use charge through an ad-hoc committee but not through with that, the issue of post construction audit exercise came up.

Speaking to The Guardian on the issue, the agency’s Public Relations Officer, Mrs. Titi Ajirotutu explained, “Even if your building is 50 years old, the letter serve an avenue for those who do not have their building approval to obtain it.

The Governor has given an order that the Lagos State Planning Permit Authority (LASPPA) should not collect penalty fee for sixmonth. Before now, if you have built your house before approval, there is a penalty for it but it has been waved so that everybody will have the opportunity to do the needful”.

READ:ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW – THE LARGEST HOUSING AND CONSTRUCTION EXPO IN WEST AFRICA

She added that; “Those whose building are very old, we also be asked to go for stability test to get assurance that the building can still last for a particular time or otherwise.

Any building that is still okay will be left alone and the owner will be asked to go for only approval. Lekki is a development site, those who have not done their permit; the wave of penal fee for six months, the wave of title document for six month for those who do not have is an avenue for them to do their building approval. LASBCA is not punishing anybody for now.”

Kogi rescinds policy to sell off goverment property

Faced with criticism on its decision to out rightly sell off some legacy projects to finance the 2018 budget, the Kogi State Government has proposed back tracked on the controversial policy.
The controversy was stoked by the State’s Commissioner of Finance Asiwaju Idris during his budget defense for the ministry, where he revealed government’s plan to sell off some of the State property.

Many stakeholders in the state had condemned the decision as some even threatened to sue the Government if it goes ahead with the plan.

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Director-General, Kogi Bureau of Public Private Partnership (BPPP), Mr. Bob Achanya stressed that contrary to speculations that government planned to sell-off landed property and projects of previous administrations, it was out to resuscitate moribund ventures through concession agreements.

Achanya disclosed this at the weekly Inter-Ministerial Press briefing organised by Kogi Bureau of Information Services and Grassroots Sensitisation in collaboration with the state Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Lokoja.

Achanya said that government was not talking about the sale of viable property but concession of projects to investors.

“What I see here is a tactical refusal of the people to accept the concept of concession of projects. I have not seen any sale; we don’t even have a lease. All the talks are political semantics to disparage government policies.

The director general disclosed that the bureau received over 600 business proposals from investors interested in various sectors of the state economy in last two years.

He indicated that 42 of the concession projects were on-going on six-month probation at the expiration of which the quality and speed of work would determine their continuity or otherwise.

READ:ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW – THE LARGEST HOUSING AND CONSTRUCTION EXPO IN WEST AFRICA

According to him the bureau had developed an integrated Infrastructure Masterplan for infrastructural development of the state.

Achanya described the masterplan which had been approved by the State Government as “Syllabus and Textbook” of business in the state.

MBAN links accessible mortgage to robust partnership

The Mortgage Banking Association of Nigeria (MBAN) has said there would be accessible mortgage to people living across country states if government facilitates the much needed private sector partnership that would partner the mortgage banks.

Lack of adequate support in regulatory and legal frameworks, as well as long term funds to match long term investments have long been identified as the bane of the sector that has the potential to create millions of jobs and protect the economy from routine shocks.

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The association’s executive, on courtesy call to The Guardian’s headquarter, in Lagos, recently, maintained that government’s partnership and sincere reappraisal of the sector, would create loans in order to reach out to more people with subsidised rate of affordable housing.

The immediate-past President of MBAN, Dr. Femi Johnson, reiterated that if state governments can leverage the amount of money provided in their budget for housing and partner with the private sector and other people and put funds together and create homes, chances are there that together, things can work a lot better.

“Even if the state governments use tax payers’ money and build houses for citizens and tell them to come and take at no interest rates, instead of building for 200 citizens for free in a year, it could be used to give 10,000 people houses at reduced interest rates,” he said.

The President of MBAN, Adeniyi Akinlusi, stressed the need for governments to reduce the long period of time and procedures associated with title transfer of properties as it hampers the ease of doing business and extendedly, the financial inclusion.

“If title transfers take a shorter time, it will improve ease of doing business. If there is adequate mortgage law, investors from the private sector will come in handy and there will be inflow of money in the country,” he said.

The group therefore, propagated for what it described as “131 model” to tackle the issue of poor housing investment in the country and discouragement facing investors.

Explaing the formula, Akinlusi said that 1 is for the one per cent subsidy, while 3 is the maximum number of days to proper documentation of title and the other 1 represents one desk where the documentations is carried out.

“In some states, you will find close to 15 different desks to register title and by the time you get to the fifth desk, some papers are already missing, meanwhile it was complete when you submitted.

“You don’t need more than three desks for registration. The duration should be short, we don’t need more than three days for proper documentation to finalise title. The cost can be cut down. If we have one per cent as cost, a lot of people will not shy away from registering their title. When this is done, people can then go to the banks freely to pay.

READ:ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW – THE LARGEST HOUSING AND CONSTRUCTION EXPO IN WEST AFRICA

The association’s Executive Secretary, Kayode Omotoso, harped on the need to ensure standards as it is a major step in attracting funds from capital market to make the sector sustainable, as well as derisking operations.

“To achieve this, we are working with relevant stakeholders including the Central Bank of Nigeria. We have come up with uniform mortgage underwriting standard for self-employed and those at the informal sector, so they can easily access funds to build their houses,” he said.

Nigeria: ‘Inconsistent Policies Drive Away Investors From Housing Sector’

By Charles Coffie Gyamfi
Abeokuta — A property developer, Messrs Symphony Garden City has lamented that foreign investors are not keen on investing in the housing industry because of the existing strict and inconsistent government policies in Nigerian housing sector.

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Managing Director of Symphony Garden City, Lagos, Mr. Bola Adeboye who stated this at a seminar on the proposed symphony Garden Estate at Ogudu, area of Lagos State, decried the rate at which both foreign and local investors in the housing industry are moving their investments from the country to other African countries.

He warned that unless the situation is reversed, investors would keep on avoiding the sector.

“Governments of some countries have less than 5 per cent interference in housing unlike Nigeria where government influence is over 80 per cent. Governments should deregulate, they should give room for professionals on the field”, he said.

He therefore appealed to the Federal government to deregulate as well as avoid any interference in the operation of the housing industry.

READ:ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW – THE LARGEST HOUSING AND CONSTRUCTION EXPO IN WEST AFRICA

Adeboye also advised government to embark on various housing schemes in order to address the housing deficit in the country. He explained that the garden City would provide all social amenities, such as good road, recreation centre, club house, schools among others in the estate.

Meet the woman turning a nonprofit into a developer of affordable housing

In her four years working in the real estate arm of the Mission Economic Development Agency, Karoleen Feng has played a key role in turning the program from an idealistic aspiration into a major player in the neighborhood’s housing scene.

A year or two ago, Feng said, the nonprofit didn’t much impress the local development community.

“I was talking to a realtor and he was kind of not really giving me the time of day, despite whatever I had said about my own experience,” recalled Feng, 40, who studied political economies of industrial societies at UC Berkeley for her BA and then moved elsewhere on campus to receive a Master’s Degree in city and regional planning.

Then, a few months ago, the same realtor got in touch, Feng said.

“He calls me up and says, ‘Oh, you guys have made yourself into the big time, you guys are able to buy buildings throughout the Mission. So I have a building now for you.’”

Before Feng joined its staff, MEDA mostly provided tax preparation, business strategy guidance and education programs. It owned no property, but since then, it has become a mini-mogul. The nonprofit now manages 439 apartments it took over from public housing, owns 122 units in the form of multi-unit apartment buildings acquired through the city’s “Small Sites” program, and is the developer of 534 entirely below-market-rate units in five different buildings, the first of which is expected to break ground in February 2018. It recently paid $6 million to buy a former furniture store on 18th and Mission Streets.

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Heading up the 13-person real estate department is Feng — a woman of color in real estate. It’s a field that, in the nonprofit sector, is less homogenous than in general, but is still dominated by men. That makes her, inevitably, a representative of both women and people of color — as well as the face of an agency relatively new to the scene.

“There is a sense that MEDA, being an upstart and a startup … that we don’t have the full technical qualifications behind our work,” she said. “So I have to represent that I’m on top of my game whenever I’m in a conversation … Unlike, potentially, being a man in the field, I don’t get the privilege of just throwing my weight around. I also have to be more respectful of what other people have to say about our work.”

The goal, when MEDA started dabbling in property, was to build or acquire 1,000 units by 2020. If you count the ones it’s expecting to build, they’re ahead of schedule by three years.

Feng is quick to credit the entire team with this achievement, but her own tenacity undoubtedly plays a role. It’s perhaps unsurprising that a team that is three years ahead of its own schedule is headed by a person it can be very hard to keep up with.

“She is so energized and determined and focused, you have to really match that, or she’s gonna run away with the whole thing,” said Katie Lamont, Director of Housing Development at Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation.

“You really have to kind of match her energy, [and] commit to focus with your whole being in the conversation,” she added.
More than half of Feng’s time is spent in meetings, where she moves from one agenda point to the next with dizzying speed, and gives the impression that her thoughts are moving even faster.

In a meeting with two of her team members to discuss potential future nonprofit tenants, Feng zeroed in on a whiteboard covered in a flowchart of qualifications, mulling over how to pick a tenant from a sea of groups needing stable space.

She twirled a paper clip, long since fidgeted out of useful shape, throwing out scenarios — should groups that can show financial stability really be favored over those that can’t, but which might have the most need? How should the new landlord verify whether an organization is sustainable? What kind of evaluation would strike a balance between arbitrary and subjective?

At the core of the conversation seemed to be the thorny question: How will MEDA balance being a landlord that needs responsible tenants with offering a service to those who need it?

“I don’t know that there’s going to be the perfect nonprofit. A lot of them are in survival mode,” she said.

Even once she’s out the door, the conversation continues: Feng said members of her real-estate team sometimes walk her home. At the door, however, the conversation quickly ends once she’s greeted by her three-year-old daughter.

“Literally we’re at the doorway and it’s a transition between me holding my daughter and hugging and kissing her, while we’re still talking about the five remaining issues we have to solve by tomorrow,” she said.

Feng began her career at the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation as an intern and worked her way through the ranks to become an associate director.

“She’s been doing this a long time, and she understands all aspects of it, particularly the business aspect of it,” Lamont said. “She’s attracted some impressive people, in terms of their raw talent but who don’t have nearly the same experience she has.”

Joshua Simon, executive director of the East Bay nonprofit, worked with Feng while she was an assistant project manager there. At the time, she was working on the revitalization of Swan’s Market and finding restaurants to bring local businesses and employers to the grocer.

“She made a point of knowing the property owners of surrounding buildings. Those good relationships bear fruit into opportunities,” Simon said.

But it’s not just business relationships and housing stock to Feng. Managing housing for a service organization means seeing housing as the foundation, but not a panacea, for helping people reach their potential.

“The reality is that solving a person’s housing problem, especially if they have other difficulties that they were originally facing … means that you’re not necessarily making sure that they’re successful, you’re just making sure that they’re successfully housed,” she said.

The concept of housing as a bedrock for opportunity came from her own childhood in Singapore, a country where 80 percent of the population lives in public housing.

“What motivates me is to, in some ways, recreate my childhood and recreate for other people the same opportunities that I had growing up … which, for me, is the opportunity to not have to worry about my daily need,” she said.

There’s a sense of personal connection, and perhaps even responsibility, to the neighborhood, too. While living in the Mission and working in the East Bay, it was easier for Feng to distance herself from the changes sweeping the neighborhood, she said. That became harder when she was faced with a daily flood of stories from families MEDA served in other capacities.

“I would be walking by buildings for sale and feel like it was personally my fault that I hadn’t bought that building, or made sure that building would be permanently affordable, when I have the tools to be able to do that,” she said.

Now, part of her job is not to just buy buildings and bid on development contracts, but push the world of nonprofit and city-funded development in the right direction. That means shaping the teams working on finding solutions to the housing and displacement crisis so that they reflect the communities they serve.

READ:ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW – THE LARGEST HOUSING AND CONSTRUCTION EXPO IN WEST AFRICA

It also means listening when communities say they’re hurting — as the Mission has been doing in conversations about gentrification — and refusing to settle for old ways of doing things.

It’s crucial for stakeholders to “recognize that there are new and innovative ways that we can do our work and that we’re all in this together,” she said. “We don’t think we can solve this alone. We think we need everybody to really solve this.”

Land use charge: Dialogue will lead to positive outcome ―Ambode

LAGOS State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, on Monday expressed optimism that the ongoing dialogue with various stakeholders on the new Land Use Charge Law will bring about a positive outcome by next week in the overall interest of the state and her people.

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Governor Ambode expressed this optimism when cornered by journalists after leading a symbolic walk against s3xual and domestic violence in Alausa.

The governor said the state government would come out with a positive position to ameliorate the issues raised by stakeholders on the new Land Use Charge Law in the next one week.

According to Governor Ambode, the increment is all in a bid to protect the future and create permanent prosperity for the state, saying that his administration was very sensitive and responsive to the yearnings of the people, and had met with various stakeholders in the last one week to explain the rationale behind the new law.

“Just the way that you would have observed, we held a session with the business community last week on Lagos Means Business and one of the topical issues that were raised was about the Land Use Charge and during that session, I did say that the state government was opened to dialogue.

“Ever since that Tuesday, we have been consulting people and we have also been trying to explain the basis of this Land Use Charge Law,” he said.
Governor Ambode said that out of the 300 tax items in the state, only the Land Use Charge and one other law was reviewed upward, pointing out that the development was targeted at fast-tracking development and protecting the future of the state.

“I want Lagosians to understand one particular issue. We have over 300 tax items for which nothing has been touched apart from this Land Use Charge and maybe one other. But again, we are a very responsive government; we are very sensitive because at the end of the day, governance is about the people; it is about what they want.
“Yes, people might like that infrastructural development is on the progressive chart in Lagos but also it comes with a price. But notwithstanding in the middle of all that, a responsive government will listen to the yearnings of her people.

“So, obviously when I say I want dialogue, I really mean it and I am ready to respond to that. In the last one week, we have been meeting different groups; we have been talking and we have been making people to understand also and I think by the end of this week, we should be able to come out with something positive that actually ameliorate the issues being raised by concerned stakeholders,” Governor Ambode said.

The governor, however, stated that the ultimate goal of his administration was to create a framework to put the state on a sound pedestal for economic growth and prosperity, and as well secure the future of the state, assuring that something positive would be done to respond to the issues raised by the people.

READ:ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW – THE LARGEST HOUSING AND CONSTRUCTION EXPO IN WEST AFRICA

“At the end of the day, it’s all for the development of Lagos. What this government is interested in is to create a trajectory and framework of permanent prosperity for Lagos. It is not about today, it is about the future and if there is going to be permanent prosperity in Lagos, some things have to be done but I can tell you based on the dialogue and the things we have been receiving, obviously we would respond positively to those yearnings,” the governor said.

REDAN wants FG’s intervention in high cost of building materials

Housing for all particularly urban dwellers will be a mirage unless the Federal Government intervened in reducing the prices of cement and building materials, the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN) said in Ibadan on Saturday.
“Prices of cement and building materials across the country should be reduced and made affordable.

“The high cost of cement and building materials will only translate to high cost of building,” Mr Taiwo Ogunbodede, the National Vice-President of REDAN said.

Ogunbodede, who is also the Group Chief Executive Officer, of Cross and Churchhill Developing Company, spoke at the launch of West Land Meadows Park situated at Elebu, Oluyole GRA Extension, Ibadan.

He said it was imperative for the government to collaborate with estate developers in the country in a bid to provide affordable houses for its citizens.

“Government alone cannot provide adequate housing and Shelter for its citizens. They need to collaborate with estate developers to assist in building and developing the urban areas.

“The 11th Sustainable Development Goal says we should ensure that cities and human settlements inclusive, are safe, resilient and sustainable.

“Target 11.1 says by 2030 we should ensure access for all adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums.

“These are the primary goals of our company and the major reason we have been in business for the past 10 years,” he said.

Ogunbodede disclosed that the first phase of their project would start with 100 acres of land which would include building and selling plots of land.

“The first phase of the project is starting on 100 acres of land. We are also selling plots of land where people can build houses according to the prototypes of our company.

“Within this first phase, we have various land specifications affordable and easy payment options for our target class of middle level civil servants and private people.

“Infrastructure like good roads, water, light, and drainage system will be part of amenities that will make the estate unique.

“We are working in collaboration with stakeholders like the original land owners, local governments from the onset so that buyers would not be faced with issues of original land owners molesting them in future.

“The land had been bought from genuine owners and due diligence done on them. All the baales (chiefs), families and local government have been carried along,” he said.

Ogunmodede urged federal and state governments to always fast-track land processing, acquisition and documentations to make land affordable for the people.

He, however, expressed the hope that with Dangote Cement Company expanding its scope of operations and more stakeholders joining the cement business, the cost of cement and other building materials would go down.

The REDAN official also appealed to state and federal governments to assist their workers and ordinary Nigerians to own their houses

Nigerian Govt To Ease Process Of Doing Business – Fashola

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola has pledged the commitment of the Federal Government to ease process of doing business in Nigeria.

Fashola said this on Saturday in Kano during tour of electrification project in Sabo Gari Market being executed by a private firm, Sabo Gari Energy.

He said that the commitment to promote ease of doing businesses was because small and medium scale businesses were the major drivers of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

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The minister said Sabo Gari Energy project was critical because power was being generated and delivered to traders in the market without a grid system.

He said the project had increased traders’ access to power, adding that instead of waiting for transmission grid, energy was being generated and consumed in the market.

“We have seen the control room, where the energy comes, the solar panel, where solar energy is being converted into alternating current electricity.

“About 3,000 out of the 12,000 shops have signed contract to be connected and about 500 have been connected and the last section of the market is being wired.

“As the wiring continues, it is also creating employment in the procurement, manufacture, sale and installation.

“About 120 technicians have been employed, what this mean is that opportunities are coming and this is what our government is all about,” he said.

According to him, from one of the customers we spoke to, he was spending about N2,000 a week on five hours electricity but now, he is getting 10 hours for half of that price.

He said that money would be saved in the process, adding that the expectation would be that the saved money would be transferred to goods and services to reduce prices.

The minister said the project was being executed by the Federal Government in partnership with the Kano State Government through the Rural Electrification Agency.

Fashola said plans were concluded to extend similar project to Ariaria market in Aba, Shomolu Printing Community in Lagos and the Sura market.

He said the new projects would be executed before the end of 2018, adding that the idea was to move away from the theory of electricity to the practice and realities.

At the National Housing Programme site in Kano, Fasola said similar pilot housing programme was being replicated in 33 states of the federation.

The minister said the idea was to see how Nigerians would react to the programme in terms of acceptability and affordability before rolling out mass housing programme.

He said the decision to start with pilot programme was informed by the empty house found in most parts of the country.

READ:ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW – THE LARGEST HOUSING AND CONSTRUCTION EXPO IN WEST AFRICA

He said the concern of the Federal Government in construction infrastructure followed the number employment created in construction sites.

FG housing sector attains 100% local content implementation

Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing says it has achieved 100 percent compliance in the implementation of local content policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria in the housing sector.
Daminabo Emmanuel Oko-Jaja, the zonal director, South-South, National Housing Programme, made the disclosure during a guided tour of 24 housing units of 12 blocks of two and three bedroom flats under the 2016 National Housing Programme located at Idumwuehigie, Uhunmwode Local Government Area of Edo State.

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Oko-Jaja, who said the objective of the housing programme was to address accommodation deficit in the country, noted that the execution of the housing programme was being done on 100 percent local content.
“The programme is a Federal Government initiative, and the idea is to geared towards the achievement of 100 percent local content policy of the Federal Government. 100 percent local content in the essence that the design is done in-house by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing staff. The supervisory team is also staff of the ministry.


“Contractors are Nigerians, the contractors staff are also Nigerians, the suppliers are all Nigerians, and the materials used are all sourced locally in the country. So, it is really 100 percent local content,” he said.
He added that over 300 persons from the community had been engaged as workers in the construction of the housing project, some as sub contractors and food vendors.
The project has impacted positively on the economic well being of the people of the community as well as on the contractors, he said.
Oko-Jaja, who said the contractors handling the project would complete the project by December this year, however urged the contractors to continue with their good works both in quality and on time to be able to be considered for the next phase of the project.
Earlier, Israel Andrew Ikechukwu, federal controller in the ministry, said the housing project was for the benefit of all Nigerians.
On her part, Ebeamata Ani-Otoibhi, team leader, National Housing Programme, said the project was about 85 to 80 percent completed.
Otoibhi said the project had impacted positively on the host community, pointing out that skilled and unskilled people from the community had been engaged as labourers while commercial activities had also improved in the locality.

READ:ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW – THE LARGEST HOUSING AND CONSTRUCTION EXPO IN WEST AFRICA
“There are a lot of food vendors in the site providing food for the workers because they don’t go out of the site to eat. This has improved the economic status of the people. We also have a lot of people coming daily for daily jobs. For example, like the condominium during casting of the first floor, about 40 unskilled labour will be engaged,” he said.
The head of the community, John Aghimien, commended the Federal Government for the project, noting that it had contributed to the economic development of the community, as more of the indigenes had been engaged in the construction.
by IDRIS UMAR MOMOH

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