The demand for housing, especially in developing countries, has remained a source of concern, globally. This is why the United Nations set aside the first Monday in October yearly, to draw attention to the state of housing in towns, cities and communities. Experts are convinced that with a rapidly increasing global population, housing provision may have gone beyond the conventional way of getting it done; hence, the need to further embrace technology in housing delivery.
Faculty of Housing of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors & Valuers’ (NIESV) has taken the lead in initiatives aimed at deploying modern technologies, such as dry construction, said to have capacity to deliver an average of 500 housing units in three months.
IT was a gathering of eggheads in the built environment.The meeting, which has become a yearly ritual is aimed at finding lasting solution to the hydra-headed problem of insufficient housing, globally.
Last Monday, in line with the setting aside of every first Monday in October by the United Nations (UN), an initiative that started in Kenya, 1986, stakeholders gathered in Lagos to celebrate the World Habitat Day.
At present, Nigeria is said to have a 17 million housing stock deficit; others contend that the figure may be more given that the same number has been bandided for over a decade.
It was, therefore instructive, when at this years’s celebration, the Chairman, Housing Faculty of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors & Valuers (NIESV), Chief Chika Okafor, said: “It is high time we moved away from brick and mortar and embrace new methods that cut down on time, space, size and make affordability easier.”
According to him, for the country to achieve any meaningful progress in meeting the housing needs of her citizens, there is the urgent need to deploy industrialised housing solutions, which allow for mass production of hundreds of houses within a short period of three months.
Okafor made it known that gone were the days when the government could cite the vagaries of weather or paucity of funds as a limiting factor to construction. He said estate surveyors and the association were ready to offer quality advocacy, or ideas on the importance of housing and affordable housing delivery.
“We are determined to drive the process of affordable housing as we have taken it upon ourselves to encourage research into the varying broad ramifications of housing as a generic core subject and curriculum of national importance by identifying housing models, financing and affordability within conducive and congenial framework that facilitates progress both in the housing process and its delivery,” he said.
He advocated for the separation of the Housing ministry from Works or any ministry, was emphatic on the importance of housing to human needs, hence the need to accord it the deserved attention by the government. Besides, he canvassed that access to land for housing be made less cumbersome, in addition to quick access to legal title to such land.
Others are reducing housing cost through modern and construction techniques; perfection of title registration and perfection through simplified and harmonised process to make it less expensive, timely and secure; provision of adequate infrastructure facilities and relaxation of the various conditions required for land allocation and title perfection; review of National Housing Fund Act to increase the Statutorily contribution and participation level; 50 per cent of recovered fund by EFCC should be channeled to the provision of affordable housing; government should seek to achieve the Singaporean model by changing the perception of housing; engage professionals in housing delivery.
In similar vein, a former Secretary, NIESV Housing Faculty, Casmir Anyanwu, reiterated that the nation needed to move from brick and mortar because it is not only capital intensive but time consuming.
He was emphatic that the gap in the housing stock could not be met with such old methodology in housing production. He therefore suggested the deployment of “dry construction” technology, where housing components are manufactured and packed in cartons and can be assembled within weeks to build a house. This technology obtains in the middle East and very recently too.
“Housing production should be made a commodity with full industrialisation. It should serve as a source of job creation and economic fortification to arrest urban decay by reducing housing cost through modern trends,’’ Anyanwu said.
NIESV First National Vice President, Emma Wike, underscored the rights of citizens to decent and affordable housing. He asked that both the Federal and state governments should come up with solution to redress the housing shortage
He said: “The Federal Government should give the housing sector the deserved attention and grant it an intervention fund as was done in aviation, agriculture, banking and recently the film industry. Since most of the recovered loot from public officials and politicians are mostly from houses bought or constructed with public funds, it will not be a bad idea for the government to stake 50 per cent of the recovered loot to invest into industrial housing provision to enable the majority of the people have access to decent housing.”
Afolabi Adedeji, an engineer, also supported the call for a new direction in housing provision. He canvassed the need to embrace modern technologies to bridge the housing gap. He asked for the government to take the lead to make housing ownership.