Friday, 8 January 2016

EXPERTS SEEK REVIEW OF GOVERNMENT’S NEW HOUSING AGENDA

Following plans by the federal authorities to adopt sustainable housing programme, promote alternative energy in projects, stimulate jobs for the low income earners and partner state governments in the process, housing professionals have expressed mixed reaction to new housing policy.

Under the policy, the government will adopt Lagos housing model, constructing 40 blocks of housing in each state and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Each state is expected provide land of between 5-10 hectares for a start, with title documents, and access roads or in lieu of access roads, a commitment that they will build the access roads by the time the houses are completed. We see this leading to potential delivery of 12 flats per block and 480 Flats per state, and 17,760 Flats nationwide.

“This will translate into a minimum of four doors and two windows very conservatively per home; a demand for 71,040 doors and 35,520 windows nationwide in year one, which we will encourage to be made in Nigeria,” according to the Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Barrister Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN).

In his submission, the immediate past president, Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Waheed Brimmo, while applauding the move, said the new policy need to be reviewed by stakeholders to ensure the programme is successful. According to Brimmo, housing shortage in the country is becoming a big problem that any meaningful intervention is a welcome development.

However, he advised that for such project to succeed, there must be sense of purpose and determination by the stakeholders, especially, the quality of works that would be done, locations and house types that would be within the reach of a sizable number of Nigerians.
Similarly, the President of African Union of Architects, (AUA), Chief Tokunbo Omisore, urge the government to consider different hours type for different locations and the following in its implementation: equity between the federal and the participating state governments, target audience, location factor, price differentiation among the different states, maintenance of housing estates after completion, facilities that would make them habitable, among others.

He said:  “As much as government is having good intention of providing accommodation for her teeming citizenry, there must be an acceptable parameter that must be followed. For instance, there cannot be the same house type for places like Lagos, Rivers state, Abuja or Kano, where there is commercial opportunities, unlike other states. So to me the demand in the above states and the caliber of the would-be beneficiaries are differ. Besides, there is the need to ensure that state governments that would key into the programme provide lands in a more suited location that would attract the beneficiaries.”

Collaborating his view, President, Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG), Mr. Kunle Awobodu, who was the immediate past Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Institute of Builders (NIOB), call for the involvement of the professionals to actualise the dream.

Awobodu was of the opinion that in contrast to Lagos where the minister initiated LagosHoms, without involving the relevant professional bodies in the building sector, the minister should involved experts in one way or the other.

“Normally, we need to encourage them in this regard. Every government will come and make pronouncement on how they will meet housing deficit in the country without practical move for implementation. But we must give this government the necessary support by advising them where necessary. However, they need to carry out feasibility studies to determine who their targets are, the appropriate locations in each states that would be attractive to the would-be homeowners. But the most critical aspects are funding on one hand and the selection of competent contractors that would ensure quality materials. This is where ones fear lies-political patronage may take preeminence over competent contractors,” warned Awobodu.

However the Minister in his address stated sustainability is critical to solving the problem. One component of sustainability is the ability to be able to repeat what had being done, which means the need to recover the cost of houses, even if there is no profit, so that one can build more.

He said: “There will be no sustainability if we sell below our cost price. Therefore, we must agree about who is entitled to a house and what type of house their income entitles them to. We must also decide whether those who have no income can legitimately expect to own a home, without abdicating our responsibility as a government to increase the capacity of the economy to employ more people. These are questions to which our national survey will be directed and honest answers will help provide a guidance for us to give you what you want, and not what we think you want”, said the minister, adding that through construction, economic commitments that can stimulate jobs across the states, especially for low income people like bricklayers, welders, carpenters, plumbers, vendors, who live on the margins of the society would be enhanced.” (Source: Guardian)