Property sales in the UK have remained steady in 12 months to March 2019

Property sales in the UK are stable, largely unchanged in the 12 months to March 2019, the latest official figures show while non-residential transactions were up for a second month in a row.

The data published by HMRC show that sales of properties above £40,000 reached 101,830 in March 2019, up 1.4% month on month and 6.8% higher than the same month in 2018.

Non-residential property transactions increased by 8.9% between February 2019 and March 2019, and is 9.7% higher than March 2018.

Looking over a longer period the data shows that a fall in transactions starter at the end of 2007 which coincided with the housing market slump and financial crisis. Prior to this, sales had risen steadily, peaking in the middle of 2006.

The December 2009 peak was associated with the end of the stamp duty holiday, during which the lower tax threshold was raised to £175,000. The peak in March 2016 is associated with the introduction of higher rates on additional properties in April 2016.

Mike Scott, chief property analyst at online estate agent Yopa, pointed out that activity last March was hit by the Beast from the East weather pattern, and so an increase on last year’s figure was to be expected.

‘Overall, the first quarter has been remarkably consistent with the previous five years, showing that activity in the housing market has not been dented by the current political and economic uncertainty,’ he said.

According to Kevin Roberts, director of the Legal and General Mortgage Club, a stamp duty holiday for downsizers would help to boost the market. ‘While existing home owners remain largely undeterred by the current political climate, with just 12% of those who had plans to buy in the next six months delaying their decision, it’s clear there are still other barriers preventing people from achieving their home ownership goals,’ he said.

‘The continued support we’ve seen from the Government to help those lower down the housing ladder is to be welcomed, but if we are to increase property transactions, this means helping those at the other end too. A stamp duty holiday for last time buyers, for example, would enable these borrowers to move to more suitable, freeing up larger homes often in school catchment areas for growing families,’ he explained.

Source: Property Wire

Why Builders Must Improve Building Standards In Abuja – FCDA

ABUJA – The Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), has stated that if Abuja, the Sub Continental capital, is to be accorded its pride of place, then it must meet internationally recognized building standard.

The authority also reiterated its determination to ensure the delivery of world class public and private buildings, with exquisite interior and exterior ambiance expected for healthy living.

The Executive Secretary, FCDA, Engr. Umar Gambo Jibrin gave this assurance while declaring open a seminar organised in conjunction with Creative House at the Authority’s conference hall, recently in Abuja.


According to him, this exhibition is the Authority’s modest contribution towards the promotion of optimum standards and international best practices in all aspects of the building industry.

“Much more, it serves as a forum where participants can offer innovative solutions and options to knotty interior challenges being faced in various building types.

“The theme will provide a suitable platform for a one-on-one interactive among stakeholders in the building and also sensitise on the need and benefits of defining interior spaces with accent pieces and treatment through practical demonstrations.”

Speaking on space definition, the FCDA boss said space definition is all about taking responsibility for the spaces we occupy by expressing ourselves with the things that mean most to us personally, professionally and socio-culturally. This is natural instinct.

“This exhibition is apt and timely as we all live, work and play in spaces. When we take responsibility for these spaces, we derive a psychological settlement and calmness that is subtle yet profound enough to affect our wellbeing and productivity.”

The Executive Secretary, who was represented by the Director, Public Building, Engr. Emmanuel Oluwadamisi said”Externally, they could be colours, columns and fixtures like doors or other forms that embellish and give character to both the structure and cityscape, silently speaking volumes about the individual, establishment or community.”

Narrowing to interior spacing, Jibrin stated that, “accents are generally used to aesthetically pull your spaces together for a personalised and yet functional ambience which enhances our general wellbeing and productivity, creativity and imagination.”

Jibrin therefore, called on all relevant departments and agencies to also carry out similar trainings so as to “add value, richness, little colour, painting and artwork”, adding well as deepen the knowledge of space definition and aesthetics, hence the beauty of Abuja.

Meanwhile, Anthony Osigwe, the Director in the Department of Public Buildings, while speaking earlier said that the seminar was the 30th in the series, adding that it transformed into an exhibition in 2016 and has continued to make improvement and innovations.

He underscored the importance of space definition in designing and called on the stakeholders to always come together and work together for the progress of all.

Similarly, the Chairman of the Capacity Building Committee who doubles as Deputy Director, Public Buildings, Ademo, in his welcome address said that the objective of the programme, which was to bequeath a capital city comparable to the best in the world.

In ensuring the development of a modern city and society, in line with the dreams of its founding fathers, Ademo pledged they would remain open to new relevant technologies to achieve the best for the FCT and the country.

The two-day event, which had two segments -presentation and exhibition, was attended by many staffers of several departments under the FCDA and FCT Administration, including the departments of Engineering, Mass Housing, Urban and Regional Planning, Survey and Development Control, among others.

By Toyin Adebayo

Key trends that will shape home design in 2019

There are a number of trends that will continue to shape home design in 2019 and beyond. For both home owners and architects there is a keen focus on sustainability, wellness, smart homes and the comforts of technology, indoor-outdoor living, artisanal features and, from a functional space perspective, laundry rooms.

Sustainability and wellness architecture

An important, fast-growing trend in the building industry as a whole is health – both of the planet, which is encompassed by sustainable practices, and of its occupants, which is termed wellness architecture. We are more connected to nature than we think. The sheer fact that we are part of the animal kingdom makes us inextricably linked to the plants, animals, air and water around us. We are healthier and happier when we have access to nature, be it a pot plant or a forest.

According to architect Veronica Schreibeis Smith, this philosophy is influencing residential and commercial design, building products as well as real estate developments. Think of all the estates that have incorporated the natural surroundings into building plans, benefiting the longevity of biodiversity as well as the health of the residents.

“Sustainable materials have become a priority for professionals in the building industry and coupled to this there is a noticeable shift towards including healthy materials that don’t cause harm to planet nor people. Materials that are toxin-free and have little or no impact on the environment are making their way into the house framework. In fact, Engel & Völkers Potchefstroom is busy with the construction of a ‘green’ house, which will serve as a prototype going forward,” explains Grant Wheeler, director of business strategy, Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.

 

Resilient design

According to Architrends, adding to the sustainability trend is a growing awareness towards resilient design. Resilient design is a response to climate change and encompasses the practice of insulating buildings for energy efficiency, fitting solar panels for generating electricity and adding filtration systems that conserve water.

“Weather patterns are changing with some areas experiencing severe drought while others experience high temperatures and humidity. This reality provides even more reason for home design to incorporate features that add to the efficiency and comfort of a house,” says Wheeler.

The automation of homes has fast become a trend and is high up on the must-have list of many individuals who are in the process of building a new house. A home automation system can control lighting, climate, entertainment systems, and appliances. It can also control home security such as cameras, access control and alarm systems.

“The inclusion of an automation system, where you can switch on the oven and disarm the alarm system remotely, while you’re driving home from work, is becoming an important element to consider when designing and building new homes,” says Wheeler.

Indoor-outdoor living

The seamless movement between indoor and outdoor continues as a strong trend with design becoming more innovative and bolder to allow for greater comfort and enjoyment of this type of lifestyle. Think sliding glass panels that slide into the wall to completely opening the indoor living area to the patio and floor tiles that work both inside and out to create one continuous area. Outdoor kitchens are also becoming a desirable home feature.

“The indoor-outdoor residential lifestyle is a favourite amongst many South Africans and many prospective home buyers look for this type of home and will pay more for it. This type of design allows you to enjoy the great weather as well as the added square meterage when entertaining guests,” says Wheeler.

Incorporating artisanal fixtures and features

Adding elements created by local artists and artisans are simple and effective ways of personalising a home. In 2019, the move towards incorporating natural materials such as stone, copper, concrete, granite and wood into a living space creates a serene, organic balance. A stone slab used as a feature in an entrance hall, wooden slats separating two living areas, doors accentuated with sheets of copper – they’re all features that bring warmth and individuality to a house.

Laundry rooms

According to the latest What Home Buyers Really Want (2019 edition) survey from the National Association of Home Builders in the US, amongst the most wanted home features are energy saving elements such as insulation and whole house green certification and, in terms of space, laundry rooms.

People want the comfort and utilitarian ease of a separate laundry room. Not only to do the washing, but to store apparel that is out of season, hang tog bags and even have an area to wash the dog.

“A dedicated laundry area stems from the desire for a small room that is conveniently located near the kitchen or an entrance so that muddy rugby boots can be pulled off and rinsed and the crumbs from last night’s dinner party can be brushed off the table cloth before it goes into the washing machine. Every house needs a messy room where all sorts of washing up is done and the laundry room is it,” explains Wheeler.

The home owner’s need for form, function, beauty, comfort and sustainability will continue to evolve, and with innovation in all these areas, there are lots of new, exciting developments to look forward to.

Source: By  Veruska De Vita

Construction of Ebute Meta railway station in Nigeria to begin in December

Construction works on the Ebute Meta new ultra-modern railway station in Nigeria is set to begin in December. This is according to Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC).

Mr Yakub Mahmood, the corporation’s Deputy Director (Public Relations) who revealed the reports said that the contractors handling the project, the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), has commenced the demolition of affected staff quarters, to give way for the modern station.

“All is set for the Ebute Meta station to host the new and ultra- modern railway station. The station will be one of its kind in the country; it is going to be an up-to-date station, with many features going with contemporary technology,” said Mr Yakub Mahmood.

The the Ebute Meta new ultra-modern railway station, in line with the ongoing construction of the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge line, is aimed at curtailing the lingering gridlock crisis along the corridor, thereby decongesting the seaport.

“The problem is that there are too much congestion at the seaport, and gridlock in Lagos. The moment we finish this rail, nearly almost all the cargoes will be on the track. This will equally create employment and economic growth and that is what the government is targeting,” said Mahmood.

Additionally the government is also set to take delivery of an automatic aircraft firefighter simulator equipment. Sirika, in a statement by the Deputy Director of Press, Ministry of Transportation, Mr. James Odaudu in Abuja, stated that, the builders, Messrs Alpine Metal Tech. Company had carried out the factory acceptance and pre-shipment inspection test of the simulator in presence of top Nigerian functionaries.

According to him, “The simulator, the first of its kind in Africa, is a modern- multi scenario fire fighting simulator capable of delivering training for different types of operational incidents involving aircraft in the aerodrome and its vicinity.”

Source: By Teresia Njoroge

Why you should invest in property sooner rather than later

If you want to set yourself up for long term financial gain, investing in property is an excellent way of ensuring this and the sooner you start climbing the property ladder the sooner you start creating wealth. For a first-time property buyer, the younger you are when you enter the property market the better.
If you can take the leap, investing in property in your twenties or thirties is an ideal method of forced saving. It puts you in the position of not having the disposable income to spend on things that are probably not that important, which is not necessarily a bad thing, whilst simultaneously ensuring that you’re building capital.

An investment in property sooner rather than later, will set you in very good stead, especially once the compounded nature of an early investment kicks in. Even if it means buying a home that you yourself cannot afford to live in but can rent out, whilst you live with your parents or in a commune, the asset that you are building up on the side will pay dividends in the long term.

The time effect on money means that with a property investment, the sooner you commit and the quicker you can pay off your bond, the better the effective return earned will be. In other words, the moment you no longer owe the bank, you can start enjoying the full potential of passive rental income.

Never too late

While younger is better, it’s never too late to get onto the property ladder. Investing in property at any age, if done with knowledge and foresight, will generate good revenue. Talk to an estate agent and start looking at the market and what you may be able to purchase. Have a plan.

The benefits of owning property are numerous, so invest wisely.

Property can provide investors with a steady rental income stream as well as capital appreciation. However, it is important to assess the market and the investment carefully. Do your homework, shop around and get advice.

Location and the future of the location is the first and foremost factor to consider when purchasing an investment property. Does it show potential growth or does it show a propensity for decay? What is happening within the immediate surroundings and in the suburb and area as a whole?

Take stock of fixtures and fittings. Are they durable enough to keep maintenance costs at a minimum? Will they look dated in five or ten years’ time?

What is the demand for the property? Are prospective tenants looking to move into the area because it’s close to schools or a business district?

Take a five-year view and calculate your costs and your return, but also consider a longer period. A ten-year view is preferable as this will generate a more valuable return on investment because it should give the best capital appreciation on a well-located and pristinely maintained property.

Owning property to let not only generates passive income, it has tax benefits too.

From a tax point of view, rental income forms part of income and you would pay tax accordingly. However, there are certain expenses that can be deducted on your tax return. These include:

  • Advertisements,
  • Agency fees of estate agents,
  • Homeowners insurance (not household contents insurance),
  • Garden services,
  • Repairs, and
  • Security and property levies.

If you are ready to take the leap and if you are ready to start creating wealth, talk to your estate agent about a property investment that will work for you, your budget and your needs. Start looking at the market to have a more concrete idea of what your money will buy.

Source: By Grant Wheeler.

Kenya begins construction of US $168m Western Bypass

Kenya National Highways Authority (KenHa) and the Ministry of transport has announced that construction of US $168m Western Bypass has begun with the project being the fourth and final ring of the Nairobi Ring Roads.

The bypass project is set to kick off in Gitaru, Kiambu county connecting the Southern bypass in Kikuyu town and will terminate in Ruaka connecting the Northern bypass. It will will have a four lane expressway with a total length of 16.79Km and seven interchanges at Lower Kabete, Gitaru, Ndenderu, Ruaka, Wanginge, Rumingi and Kihara.

Western Bypass

According to Transport Cabinet Secretary Mr James Wainaina Macharia, the project will also have noise control barriers in all human settlement areas. The Western Bypass will have eleven traffic bridges and pedestrian underpasses on the entire length. Pedestrian barriers will also be installed in the midst to ensure that no pedestrian crossings occur at the non-authorized areas, apart from the provided for facilities such as footpaths and underpasses.

The separate footpaths and cycle tracks will provide an enhanced safety feature to ensure no direct conflict between motorized traffic and road users. Additionally it will have paved deviations along the construction route to ensure smooth traffic flow and reduce environmental hazards.

hina Road and Bridge corporation were tasked to undertake the project and to complete in a period of 39 months. Upon completion the project is expected to ease traffic congestion around Nairobi City, ensure rapid economic growth around the areas near the road, Improve safety for pedestrians and other non-motorized road users and ensure a smooth flow of traffic in the area.

Moreover there will be construction of a bus park at Wangige which will also enhance public transport efficiency and ensure that traffic congestion and interruptions occasioned by public transport vehicles is reduced. Provision of adequate bus bays at all the major existing commercial centres and settlement areas will be provided.

Source: By Linus Kemboi

The pockets of Britain bucking the Brexit backlash

Concerns about Brexit have taken their toll on Britain’s property market.

After ‘almost grinding to a complete halt’ at the beginning of the year, the annual growth in house prices remained subdued in February, according Nationwide Building Society.

It said the average value of a home in Britain was £211,304 last month, down from £211,966 a month earlier.

Most commentators attribute the sluggish housing market to the uncertainty around Brexit, arguing that many of those looking to buy and sell properties are delaying their decisions until the country leaves the EU.

Zoopla reveals the rise in house prices since the Brexit vote in June 2016

 

Zoopla reveals the rise in house prices since the Brexit vote in June 2016

But amid this doom and gloom for the property market, there are pockets around the country that have seen a surprising rise in values.

Indeed, several cities have performed especially strongly since the Brexit vote in June 2016.

In particular, Leicester and Manchester have seen price growth of 17.2 per cent and 16.6 per cent respectively since the 2016 vote.

A further 10 locations around the country have also seen double digit house price growth during the period.

The list produced by property website Zoopla is dominated by spots in Scotland and the north of England, including Nottingham, Edinburgh and Leeds.

The only place in southern England in the top 10 locations is Bournemouth, while Cardiff is the only location in Wales.

HOUSE PRICE RISES IN PAST YEAR

House prices in Britain’s largest cities have risen for the first time in three and half years, according to Zoopla.

Zoopla’s UK Cities House Price Index report claimed that all 20 of Britain’s biggest cities saw values increase year-on-year.

It is the first time all 20 cities have seen positive growth since August 2015, primarily due to Aberdeen seeing prices lift year-on-year with a 1.8 per cent increase in February.

Annual house price growth ranged from 6.8 per cent in Leicester to 0.2  per cent in Cambridge last month.

Annual house price growth in stood at 5.8 per cent in Manchester, 5.6 per cent in Belfast, 5.1 per cent in Birmingham, 5 per cent in Cardiff, 4.6 per cent in Edinburgh, 3.5 per cent in Newcastle, 2.6 per cent in Bristol and 1 per cent in Oxford.

House prices in Leicester have increased by an impressive 17.2%

London has been hit harder than most areas of the country as this is where prices tend to be higher than elsewhere in Britain.

It means the growth in house prices has been relatively low in the capital, increasing by only two per cent since the Brexit vote.

However, the outlook is changing according to one expert. Richard Donnell, research and insight director at Zoopla, said: ‘House prices in London are starting to firm.

‘Buyers who have stood on the side-lines since 2015 are starting to see greater value for money, seeking out buying opportunities amidst the uncertainty of Brexit. This is supported by greater realism on pricing by sellers.

‘We do not believe London prices will rebound but it is a positive for sales volumes, which are still 25 per cent lower than in 2016.’

House prices in London have grown by 2% since the Brexit vote in June 2016

He added: ‘House price growth has remained strong in regional cities over the last three years rising as much as 17 per cent since the Brexit vote but signs of weaker growth are building as affordability pressures grow.

‘While the Brexit debate reaches fever pitch, data on housing sales and demand for mortgages shows buyers are largely unmoved.

‘Transaction volumes over 2018 remained in line with the five-year average. The latest data shows that housing transactions have increased slightly in the first two months of 2019.

‘With unemployment at a record low and mortgage rates still averaging two per cent, buyers appear to be largely shrugging off Brexit uncertainty until there is a material change in the overall outlook.’

House prices in Edinburgh have grown by 12.6% since the Brexit vote in June 2016

Zoopla said house prices across the country had climbed 8.8 per cent since the Brexit vote, or the equivalent of £17,624, from £200,444 to £218,068.

It follows Nationwide saying last month how prices had dropped 0.1 per cent between January to February as Brexit approached.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: ‘After almost grinding to a complete halt in January, annual house price growth remained subdued in February.’

‘Indicators of housing market activity, such as the number of property transactions and the number of mortgages approved for house purchase, have remained broadly stable in recent months, but survey data suggests that sentiment has softened.’

Source: By  MYRA BUTTERWORTH

The five property pitfalls that are most likely to scupper your house sale

It’s easy to make mistakes when buying and selling homes, according to industry experts.

Data shows that almost half of all sales fell through before completion in the final three months of 2018. The problem was highlighted recently in a report by NAEA Propertymark focusing on reasons for this trend.

Below, they highlight the five major setbacks that prevent deals from going through and some of the blunders people make in choosing homes which results in them later regretting their purchase decisions.

1. Nuisance neighbours

Boundary and shared access to driveway disputes or anti-social noise can all result in arguments and fall outs with the neighbours and adversely affect the sale of a property.

If you don’t get on with your neighbour it’s not something you can hide though. You are legally obliged to disclose information about any arguments you’ve had on the ‘Seller’s Property Information Form’ provided by their solicitor.

Omitting or providing false information could lead to legal action taken against you by the buyers.

2. Structural problems

If your home has any serious structural defects which aren’t visible on first inspection, this can put serious doubt in the minds of buyers.

For example, if the survey finds there’s something wrong with the foundations, they may wonder about safety and be hesitant to make an offer for fear of their mortgage provider rejecting their application.

Structural problems are, however, what 13 per cent of people compromise on according to the Which? Survey, but 30 per cent regret this decision later on (see below).

Tips when looking for a new home

Focus on what you want: Use a house viewing checklist as a reminder of the issues that matter the most to you to help keep you on track. You can download one free of charge here.

Try to keep your emotions in check: Do not let excitement make you overlook any problems or make allowances over matters that are important to you.

Consider the future: Things like changing jobs or starting a family could all make you regret your choice of home. Ask yourself if the property you are buying will support your future plans.

Keep location top of mind: The area may not be ideal now but regeneration projects could transform an area in a few years, meaning an initial compromise may pay off in the long run.

Compare your options: Consider your options together, creating a list of pros and cons to help assess what the best decision is for you.

If you’re aware of a major structural problem with your property, try and fix it before putting it on the market.

If you don’t have the money, get an appropriate contractor to give you an estimate for repair and be transparent about it with potential purchasers.

Doing this leg work, could eliminate any concerns the buyer may have.

3. Japanese knotweed

Knotweed is commonly found during site inspections and can cause major problems.

The plant can grow up to nine feet in height and roots up to three metres deep.

Hire a professional to deal with this invasive plant to prevent the property sale from falling through and before it causes any major damage to your homes’ structure or foundations.

4. Rail timetable changes

Properties in commuter towns can fetch high prices, but changes to train timetables result in travel mayhem it could negatively impact the saleability of your property.

Keep abreast of any timetable changes and find out when these will iron themselves out before putting your property on the market.

5. No planning permission

Buying a property without planning permission is a huge risk.

If you’ve had any work carried out while you’ve been living in the property, such as extensions or conversions, make sure you obtained appropriate planning permission in accordance with building regulations, and have access to these documents.

If you haven’t got the right documents, you may find that you must pay for them retrospectively before agreeing a sale.

Five most common regrets after buying…

When it comes to purchasing a property, many may not be able to tick all the boxes on the wishlist, so many settle on what fits close to what they believe is an ideal abode.

While compromising may seem a noble thing to do, it’s often this exact action that typically leaves home buyers regretting their decision.

Settling on key factors such as location, price and structural integrity are some of the worst mistakes property buyers can make, according to a survey by Which? Mortgage Advisors.

David Blake, principal mortgage adviser at Which? Mortgage Advisers, said: ‘Buying a home is a very emotive purchase. In an ideal world, we would be able to find our dream home in a great location, ticking everything off our list – but for most of us, some compromise is to be expected.

‘But that doesn’t mean you have to settle for somewhere that will leave you unhappy.’

1. Compromising on location

While there’s a Channel Four show dedicated to the importance of a property’s location and most industry experts agree that choosing the area to live in is crucial, many buyers fail to follow this sage advice – only to regret it later.

Which? Mortgage Advisors has found that one in five had compromised on their preferred area and that a quarter of home-owners who settled on location when buying their current property say they now regret it.

Families with children were particularly likely to feel remorse over compromising on location, with 38 per cent of those who had chosen a different location now ruing their decisions.

2. Paying too much

Nearly one in five of those who paid more than they had planned now wish they had not.

But many make this mistake with researchers finding that 26 per cent of respondents surveyed compromised on price.

3. Size of property

The size of the rooms (20 per cent) and the garden (17 per cent) were also factors people had often made compromises on when buying their home.

People who compromised on their garden were more likely to regret it, with 26 per cent of those who did so now kicking themselves.

4. Compromising on structural integrity

The structural condition of the property was also something people were particularly likely to regret making compromises on.

One in seven had made compromises on the structure of the property when they bought their home – and three in 10 regretted it.

Decor was also something that 23 per cent settled on but with far fewer (only five per cent) ruing their decision.

5. Not comparing enough homes

Which? Mortgage Advisors found that too many people make snap decisions and don’t take time to look at more options.

One in 10 people surveyed admitted to only viewing just one more property before settling on a home choice. Nearly three quarters (72 per cent) viewed fewer than 10 homes.

Which? Mortgage Advisors surveyed 1,200 home-owners who had bought their property within the past two years.

Source: By ANGELIQUE RUZICKA

Electricity: Abuja Residents, Others Flout Safety Laws, Live Under High Tension

In the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nasarawa and Niger states, residents are flouting extant safety laws in the power sector as they build structures and conduct businesses under electricity lines’ Right of Way (RoW).

There are others whose wired connections contravene the specified heights and rules, a Daily Trust inquest shows.

A law is being flouted

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) safety regulation titled: “Nigerian Electricity Supply and Installation Standards Regulations 2015”, stipulates that for a 330kV transmission line, a 50- metre distance split equally must be maintained on both sides of the lines before erecting structures. For a 132kV transmission line, the distance is 30 metres. For the power distribution side, 33kV and 11kV lines must have on both sides distance of 11 metres.

“For safety reasons, no structure shall be built under the overhead line’s Right of Way (RoW). Where such structures are built after the construction of the lines, the licensee shall not be liable for any mishap caused by contact with the lines,” the law further states.

It also mandates the Distribution Companies (DisCos) to comply with certain sections. For instance, where overhead lines with bare conductors are routed across sites used for public recreation and work activities other than farming, they shall be protected with cradle guards or nets.

Dawaki, Dutse residents dare high tension

At Dutse Zone 7, a subsurb that is some 20 minutes’ drive from Abuja’s city centre, some residents and buildings are under a 132kV transmission line. Some of the residents gave reasons for their action.

Abdulazeez Olabayo, a house owner in the area, said: “I bought this land genuinely from the indigenes and built on it. When NEPA (now AEDC) connected it, they said it was not dangerous even though it is close to a high tension tower. They are the experts.”

Asked if he is aware of the danger of electrocution, Olabayo said: “It is clear now, they put danger sign on the tower. We don’t allow children near it.”

Mariam Audu sells roasted yam under the 132kV line but is unaware that the line could snap and pose a risk to her.

She said, “I don’t think it can snap because they said the white men built this line. But we don’t stay here all day, I come out from 10:00am and leave by 05:00pm.”

At another section called Dutse Alhaji Zone 4, many houses are built into the 50-metre distance of the 330kV transmission Right of Way (RoW). There is a provision store leaning by the high tension tower, while dozens of 400V line carrying cables zigzag on lean short poles as they make their way into houses in the slums.

AEDC workers with their ladders were Dutse Alhaji to confirm electricity payment under the shabby networks when our reporter visited.

At Awoyinka Crescent, there are infractions as people ignorantly run their businesses under the 132kV power line. At Dutse Sokale in Bwari Area Council, welders and other businesses are operating within the RoW and some directly under the power lines.

Daily Trust observed that AEDC complied with the regulation as it provided a cradle net for a major 33kV line crossing a street at Dutse Sokale and directly under a 132kV transmission line. However, that is only one among the many 11kV lines that crisscross many streets across Dutse, Suleja in Niger State, Mararaba in Nasarawa State and other places where our reporter visited.

Block industries are on the rise under power lines in Dutse and Dawaki areas of the FCT. Right under a combination of 132kV and 330kV transmission lines, our reporter counted seven block industries with people working, trucks delivering sand and the moulders setting blocks.

Abubakar Ismail works in one of the block industries around City Polytechnic, Dawaki. He said: “This is an open space, apart from the tax we pay to revenue collectors from the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), we don’t pay for ground rent, so it is cheaper,” he said in Hausa Language.

Still in Dawaki where the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) recently broke ground for the construction of a 132kV substation, a number of small businesses are operating. A block industry owner who chose not to be named said, “This is an expanse open space. We have to use it here. We are not living under it. When we mould the blocks, we don’t stay there, so I think we have nothing to fear.”

Katampe, Kuje, others take turns

There are such breaches in parts of Katampe, Kuje, Lugbe, Jikwoyi, Karshi, Waru and Kabusa areas of the FCT where this investigation covered. At Katampe near Abuja city, a section of the equipment yard of a construction firm is directly under a 132kV transmission line with no insulation or cradle net as stipulated by the NERC 2015 Regulation.

Within the RoW, a car sales stand operates at Katampe. That also is an infraction in line with the extant safety laws in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).

At the entrance to Kuje Town, there is an open market of fruit sellers, phone accessories and other items directly under a cluster of 33kV distribution power lines. Arrays of low hanging wires were noticed around the market area.

Mrs. Ijeoma Onyeka sells provisions at the Kuje junction and feels safe because she said she knew when the 33kV lines were constructed.

“The work was done about five years ago. It is not old and I don’t think it poses any risk to us, but we are careful too,” she said.

Niger, Nasarawa communities in same act

At the Kaduna Road area of Suleja in Niger State, houses are scattered across the rocky terrain with some near the 330/132kV transmission lines. Farming activities are also being conducted across these places where the high tensions pass through.

However, the most worrisome of these cases are the siting of unfenced transformers across many communities surveyed.

Amos Chijoke, a resident of Madalla in Niger State, raised concern over how a transformer near his house sparks at night and the splinters fly towards people because it is unfenced.

In Nasarawa State, there are many houses and businesses sited under 33/11kV lines and 400V lines that are loosely strung to rickety poles. Many structures along the Abuja to Keffi expressway were marked since 2017 by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing for removal. It was also learnt that the marking was also for the purpose of highway expansion works which the Minister, Mr. Babtunde Fashola, flagged off in 2018.

Daily Trust observed that the work has begun from the Kugbo axis of Abuja and would take off those marked structures up to Lafia, the capital of Nasarawa State.

453 persons electrocuted in 3yrs

While people continue their activities under power lines, there are recorded figures of lives that this practice has claimed through electrical accidents. A report on electrical accidents obtained from the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA) shows that 453 persons were electrocuted between 2015 and October 2018.

A breakdown shows that 113 deaths occurred in 110 accidents in 2015; another 140 persons died when they were involved in 124 accidents in 2016. In 2017, 95 accidents caused the electrocution of 113 persons; from January to October 2018, NEMSA reported 87 deaths recorded in 82 accidents.

Disconnect faulty structures – NEMSA

The Managing Director of NEMSA, Engr. Peter Ewesor, told this paper that the agency was working to ensure operators in the power sector attained “zero target” for accidents and electrocutions. NEMSA traced cause of electrical accidents to unsafe use of power by the public (55 per cent) while others include encroaching on RoW, poor adherence to safety rules by the operators and the ageing networks.

In 2017, NEMSA issued a directive to the 11 DisCos to disconnect buildings that are under the Right of Way (RoW) of power lines.

A record from NEMSA shows that between June 2017 and December 2018, about 1,205 buildings found to be close to power lines were disconnected nationwide. Ibadan DisCo disconnected 607 structures, Port Harcourt DisCo disconnected 352. Ikeja and Benin DisCos disconnected 100 houses and 74 premises respectively.

Under Jos DisCo, 99 houses were disconnected, Kaduna DisCo disconnected 11 buildings, and Kano DisCo disconnected two. There are no records for Abuja, Eko, Enugu, and Yola DisCos disconnecting defaulting structures.

We enlighten customers, rehabilitate network – AEDC

The Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) was contacted on the breaches across their franchise area comprising Kogi, Abuja, Nasarawa and Niger states. The General Manager, Corporate Communication, Mr. Oyebode Babs Fadipe, said the issue of trading under power lines was a multi-sectorial one.

He said, “We have worked with government agencies like NEMSA and the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) to rehabilitate the network and make them safe.”

 

Fadipe gave instance of Gishiri community in Abuja where the DisCo “killed down the network and rebuilt it. We also installed new meters there.”

He also said there was an aggressive enlightenment of customers and all those trading under electricity lines.

“We go to market places and schools to educate customers. The power to bar people from trading under electricity lines resides in the law enforcement agents and other relevant bodies,” Fadipe concluded.

Simon Echewofun Sunday

Power Generation Slows Down, Collapses Twice in 9days

Power generation has continued to wobble, as the data obtained from the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing on Monday in Abuja showed that the country’s electricity grid collapsed twice in the past nine days.

Figures from the FMPWH showed that electricity generation crashed from the 2,548.5 megawatts recorded on April 14, 2019, to as low as 18MW on April 15.

Another collapse of the grid was recorded the next day being April 16, as power generation crashed to 19.7MW.

This, however, moved up to 3,964.8MW on April 17 and continued to fluctuate, as the grid posted the highest power generation figure of 5,154.4MW on April 19 and by April 21, the figure dropped to a low of 3,897.1MW.

The latest power generation figure on the grid was recorded on April 21, according to data from the power ministry.

The Transmission Company of Nigeria often announced that it had been working tirelessly to avert grid collapses by fixing and building power stations across the country and other facilities to stabilise the system.

It also stated on Monday that it had completed and energised the first phase of the ongoing brand new transmission substation in Ekim, Akwa Ibom State.

“This phase comprises a 60MVA 132/33kV power transformer and three outgoing 33kV feeder bays. The transformer was energised early this month,” TCN’s General Manager, Public Affairs, Ndidi Mbah, said.

She stated that although the first phase had been completed and energised, the 2x60MVA capacity substation would be completed with the execution of the second phase, which also comprised one 60MVA power transformer and three feeder bays.

According to TCN, the Ekim transmission substation project was being executed in collaboration with the Akwa Ibom State Government.

“While TCN provides and installs the transformers, switchgear and gantries using its in-house engineers, the Akwa Ibom State Government is providing all the civil works associated with the execution of the project,” Mbah added.

She noted that having energised the first phase of the project, TCN now had additional 48MW of bulk power supply for the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company to off take, through the three feeders to its customers

The power transmission firm listed the customers as the Akwa  Ibom State University, coconut oil refinery, meter manufacturing factory, syringe factory, Ikot Abasi and Onna Local Government Areas, as well as Mkpat Enin.

“It is expected that with more supply to PHEDC through the new substation, these customers would experience more hours of stable and sustained power supply,” Mbah said.

She said the Ekim transmission substation was one of the new transmission substation projects which the TCN had successfully executed within the last one year.

Source: By Okechukwu Nnodim

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