There is no gainsaying that Abuja residents are battling with daunting accommodation problem, due to the lingering huge housing deficit in the country. But it is pertinent to bridge the gap through government’s direct intervention in delivery good and affordable housing for the people, writes Stanley Onyekwere.
With the recent unveiling of 49 apartments at Abuja Investment Company Limited (AICL) Housing Estate, Apo-Dutse, it would doubt bolster the ongoing efforts to ameliorate difficulties residents are faced with in search of good shelter in Federal Capital Territory (FCT) .
The housing project, which is an initiative of AICL, an agency under the FCT Administration was constructed at the total cost of N3 billion within a period of two years, as part of the government’s effort towards reducing housing deficit in FCT.
Peoples Daily reports that the Estate comprises 8 units of 3 bedroom terraces, 20 units of 4 bedroom terraces and 21 units of 4 bedrooms semi-detached apartments.
According to the project contractor, Arch. Yunusa Yakubu said all necessary building specification were adhered to bring to birth the standard estate.
He explained that the housing estate is self-contained, with ample parking, lighted common areas and pedestrian walkways, wide, privately maintained paved roads, 24 hour security services, CCTV surveillance, two standby 750kv power generators, dedicated transformer and constant water among other features.
Similarly, the FCT minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, who commissioned the Estate noted that from available statistic, FCT accounts for 10 percent of the total housing deficit of 17 million in the country.
To this end, he said in order to bridge housing gap in FCT, the administration has embarked on a number of policies such as the Land Swap initiatives, affordable housing and mass housing schemes.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary of the FCT Administration, Obinna Chukwu, linked the growing housing deficit in FCT to the peculiar demographic resulting from the mass influx into the capital city.
He disclosed that from 2010 till date, a total of 136 developers and cooperative societies have benefited from mass housing lands in the FCT, the result of which is that many residents now own houses in mass housing estates.
He noted that under the mass housing scheme, the administration has also commenced the pilot scheme in Karshi, which is expected to contribute at least 1000 housing units into the FCT housing stock.
“I have no doubt in me that this housing project demonstrates the commitment of the FCTA in meeting the challenges of housing confronting FCT residents,” he stressed.
According to him, this year alone, the FCTA has awarded contracts for the provision of infrastructure in 10 new districts , namely, Jahi, Kagini, Maitama Extension, Wuye, Mbora, Guzape 1 and 2, Wasa and Katampe.
Assuring of the FCT Administration’s resolve to boost the capability of AICL, the minister said the agency is presently collaborating with the private sector in the area of city mass transportation services, Abuja Millennium Tower project and other projects.
In his remark, the Managing Director of AICL, Musa Musa, said the project is prove of the company’s identification with the vision of the minister to ensure that Abuja becomes one of the best cities in the world by 20:20.
Checks reveal that the FCTA has attracted a whopping to N1.8 trillion ($11 billion) worth of private capital investment inflow into infrastructure provision through land swap, city centre, railway, including housing development.
But latest information has it that with the successful implementation of the on-going Abuja Land Swap initiative, the FCTA is expected to generate over N3.2 trillion secondary investments.
According to the FCT Minister, who made the disclosure, apart from N3.2 trillion, the sum of N450 billion is already accruing to the FCT Administration from the Land Swap primary investment, which is the cost of the infrastructure to be provided by the investors.
However, by most accounts, funding gap is considered as the major constraint facing the housing sector anywhere in the world, but stakeholders in the sector opined that with recent launching of the Nigeria Mortgage Re-financing Company (NMRC) was apt towards tackling challenges of affordable housing delivery in FCT and the country at large.
Notwithstanding, the Managing Director of the NMRC, Dr. Sonnie Ayere, observed that although funding is a major problem in tackling the country’s widening housing deficit, but the issue of legal title is even a bigger challenge.
Represent by Temitope Akinyemei, at a two-Day workshop on ‘challenges of affordable housing delivery in Nigeria’, organized by the Abuja chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), the NMRC boss added that part of the problem include tenure of debt in the housing financing market; poor building technology due to insufficient capacity of key players in the sector.
He however disclosed that the company is working government and other relevant stakeholders to proffer effective solution needed to bridged identified gap hindering access to affordable housing in the country.
On his part, NIQS national president, Murtala Aliyu, said to solve the housing deficit in this part of the world, what is required is to grow the economy for the people to be able to cope with mortgage service responsibilities.
He said NIQS have a significant role in affordable housing delivery process in the country, hence the need to ensure that members of the institute are involved in housing sector.
“We want to ensure that quantity surveyors are involved in the mortgage financing process in the country’s housing sector, to contribute their quota in enhancing access to affordable housing,” he stressed.
However, beyond building houses through development of Estate and expansion of new frontiers in the infrastructural provision
By and large, as stakeholders continues beaming searchlight on critical issues affecting the quest for affordable housing delivery, it would not be out of place for the FCTA to ensure that it reinvests larger portion of the projected revenues from the on-going land swap policy into developing the housing sector. This will no doubt further bolster efforts at ameliorating the plights of residents through improved access to affordable housing in the FCT.