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Housing: Experts task Lagos on infrastructure


…say merely building houses not enough


By Nsikan Ikpe

Experts in the housing sector have tasked the Lagos State government to do more in the area of infrastructure if its planned investment of $500m in the housing sector is really to be most helpful.

According to them the Illubirin housing project is an ongoing scheme that had been initiated by the immediate past administration under the Lagos HOMS scheme.

Says the housing finance specialist, Roland Igbinoba:

‘I think it’s a great move if it is properly executed. Remember in terms of land, they might be doing a lot of dredging and maybe that’s why the focus is on the Illubirin area. What I think is an important factor is the capacity of the private sector as a counter party to deliver. So for example can the selected private parties demonstrate proof of funds and proof of capacity? There must be a way that the Lagos State Government must check that and validate it. Especially because only about 30% of the state’s PPP in housing has been delivered in the last 10 years.’

Ordinarily, a home ownership programme is a scheme whereby people would be allotted houses based on some kind of lottery arrangement, after which they would then pay for the houses in phases, as its done in the private sector. According to sources, the project at its inception in Lagos was wholly funded by the state government to eliminate sabotage by middlemen as well as price hike.

Currently however, political pressures have led to the cancellation of the contracts of the previous contractors in the process of converting to the new initiative.

The  project suffered a major setback when the Lagos State Government wanted to access the development from the Osborne Foreshore Estate adjacent to it and not from the Third Mainland Bridge. The estate residents refused. This resulted in several complications, and at a point threats of a court action. At a point, the state government reportedly tried to muscle their way by refusing to grant building permits to people to carry out their developments there.

There are also concerns that not enough consideration has been given to the infrastructure to carry the approximately 1000 units of houses being planned. This is symptomatic of the continued lack of foresight and planlessness of those in authority.

‘These half-hearted politically motivated attempts will not nearly begin to solve our massively growing housing deficit not in the nearest future,’ one of the other experts requested to comment on the development but who would not be named, volunteered.

Announcing the project at a media parley in Lagos, the State Commissioner for Housing, Hon Gbolahan Lawal announced that the Lagos State Government had finalised plans to invest $500 million on redesigning and completion of housing units at  Ilubirin and Ijora-Badia.

He said the investment would be done in collaboration with private
partners and that the venture would create 10,000 direct jobs.He
stated that there is need to redesign and expand the mass housing
units at Ilubirin and Ijora Badia to allow efficient utilization of
resources and for better quality delivery.

Ahead of the project also, the government had signed a
Public-Private Partnership (PPP) agreement with First Investment Development Company (FIDC). The project will be in phases and is expected to be fully completed within the next five years, Lawal said.

He explained that the PPP arrangement was to reduce the housing
deficit in the state by providing affordable and qualitative
accommodation for residents and to also create jobs.’


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