Posted on May 18, 2017
As Nigeria’s housing deficit continues to increase, efforts by state governments to provide accommodation for civil servants will be an investment in human capital. This is the verdict of stakeholders who commented on the decision of the Anambra State Government to collaborate with the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) to provide housing for civil servants in Awka, the state capital, and in Onitsha, the commercial capital.
The stakeholders who spoke to Daily Sun unanimously agreed that rents for accommodation have skyrocketed in recent years making salary increases by administration a drop in the ocean as rent payments take the larger chunk of the raise.
According to Chief Simon Okafor, a retired civil servant with the provision of accommodation, civil servants will have to contend with feeding, school fees for the children and clothing, with little attention to some dependants.
“It is true that property prices are higher in Lagos and Abuja, but I can still tell you that we have enough money circulating in these two cities compared to what you have in other cities. Remember, Anambra State is rated the third most developed state in the country and so the population dwarfs whatever is brought in or built in the state and therefore making living standards absolutely high. With government intervention in housing, civil servants will heave a sigh of relieve. It will also help in removing shanties as well as building houses without plans,” he said.
In the same vein, Tony Anya Okafor, commended the Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, for implementing people-friendly projects, adding that it is the only way to attract the dividends of democracy to the people.
“If governments at all times consider the problems of the people, these problems will be getting solved little by little. But when nothing is done, any administration will come and still contending with problems that ought to have been tackled by its predecessor. This does not help the people,” he concluded.
The Anambra government, earlier in the year, collaborated with FMBN to complete its housing scheme for civil servants in the state. The housing scheme was aimed at alleviating the problem of accommodation of civil servants in the state.
Speaking on the issue, the Commissioner for Housing and Urban Development, Mr. Frank Offor, said in Onitsha that the collaboration was in line with government’s efforts to provide affordable houses for workers.
According to him, “due to the economic recession, the state government decided to involve FMBN to finance the civil servant housing project. By this arrangement, it won’t take time for the projects to be delivered. The state government and the bank are already working on the process. Therefore, as soon as funds are released, work will begin on the sites’’ Offor said.
He said that Governor Obiano was passionate about meeting the housing needs of workers in the state, disclosing that government had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with investors for the construction of eight housing estates across the state.
“Government signed an MoU with Cotabs Engineering Ltd. for the construction of housing units across the three senatorial zones of the state valued at N57.4 billion. EFABS Property Ltd. is also expected to construct 1,000 housing units at Amansea near Awka for the middle and high class valued at N26.4 billion.
Similarly, the state government contracted Dozzy Investments Ltd. to build another 1,000 housing units in Awka at the cost of N12.4 billion, while Aldove Ltd., signed a contract of N2.3 billion with the state government to build 300 housing units at GRA, Onitsha. Government is also financing another firm, Affordable Building Concepts, which is to build 10,000 low-cost and middle-class housing units for civil servants at the cost of N119.7 billion,” the commissioner said.
He stated that foreign exchange challenge and the current economic recession were delaying the delivery of 20,000 housing units in the state. Offor said the recession was delaying the project as well as other infrastructural development initiatives being embarked upon by the governor.
“The challenge we had was that at the time some of these investors were about to commence work, the country started having the dollar issue, which had continued till date. The money they initially brought was devalued but we are hoping that as soon as the dollar issue stabilises, work will resume fully on the sites,” the commissioner said.
Nigerians urged to patronise local building materials
Nigerian builders have been advised to make use of building materials manufactured in the country as they have more propensity to withstand the physiological risks associated with the area.
According to the Director General, Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI), Prof. Danladi Matawal, locally manufactured building materials have been tested to match whatever natural disaster that is prevalent in the area while at the manufacturing stage.
He said that using locally-sourced building materials not only saves money for the builder, but can be more environmentally-suited to the particular locality. The decision was as a result of research and development in the engineering materials sector to find ways of minimising the cost of building materials.
NBRRI, a public institution involved in research and development in the country, was established in 1978 to conduct integrated research and development in the areas of building and road construction.
Recall that over the years, the institute’s mandate has been expanded to include research and development in the engineering materials sector and in line with the mandate, the institute has made and is still making significant achievements by pioneering the development of various local construction materials and the equipment required for their use. These achievements include but not limited to the improved sun-dried bricks (adobe), cement stabilised bricks/blocks, interlocking laterite blocks, burnt clay blocks, clay roofing tiles, and NBRRI brick/block making machines.
Speaking in Lagos during the 17th Lagos International Housing Fair recently, on the theme, “Quality Management in Housing Delivery”, organised by Beachland Resources Limited, the professor of Civil Engineering said that such would make Nigeria and indeed Africa deliver quality houses and be self-sufficient in the production of building materials, thereby enhancing capacity in the export of products and services in the sector.
The Chairman of Lagos International Housing Fair Committee, Moses Ogunleye, in his welcome address, said the organisers remain committed to the aspiration, adding that, that direction is the only way to reduce the cost of accommodation that has remained the bane of citizens owning their own houses.
The Special Adviser to Ogun State Governor, Nurudeen Sulaiman, who represented the NBRRI DG presented a paper on “High Costs of Building Construction: The Need for Alternative and Sustainable Building Materials for Housing Development”.
In the paper, he said the builder can save up to 30 per cent cost on materials when using locally-sourced materials because building materials take up to 70 per cent of building cost.
“Construction materials alone constitute over 70 per cent of the cost of housing delivery, especially where low income households are concerned. It is, therefore, expected that any cost-reduction strategy targeted at construction materials will considerably bring down cost of project delivery, thereby creating opportunity for provision of more facilities.
“It is generally expected that locally-sourced materials and the technologies for its application in the above-mentioned areas will not only be more climatically and environmentally suited to the particular locality, but also cheaper and more affordable. It is in the light of this that there has been a call to look inwards in the sourcing of materials, especially those for construction, used in the country,” he said.
Noting that experts at NBRRI International Conference on Housing Summit in 2014 estimated that Nigeria requires about 850,000 housing units annually for the next 20 years to solve its housing needs, a deficit estimated at 17 million units, he added that an estimated N120 trillion is required to fund this housing deficit.
His words: “In response to this challenge, some individuals and organisations have ventured into the development of locally-sourced materials and technologies for construction purposes. Unfortunately, impact of such ventures has not been felt in the country due to the harsh environment and non-acceptability of the technologies developed.”
Describing locally-sourced building materials as components which are manufactured or assembled in the country, he classified them into three: conventional building materials, traditional building materials and alternative building materials