By Vincent Ujumadu
AFTER many years of stunted growth as a state capital, Awka, the blacksmith city lying midway between the commercial city of Onitsha and Enugu in the South Eastern Nigeria, is beginning to take the shape of a real urban town, thanks to the new Ngozika Housing estate located north of the city.
The estate is so professionally planned that property developers, who have the wherewithal, are rushing to register their presence there.
Spurred by its beauty, the Anambra State government has planned an expansion of the estate to accommodate as many houses as possible.
Last week, Governor Peter Obi commissioned the phase 1 of the estate and accompanying infrastructure namely, electricity, roads and water at the phase 1 extension and flagged off the main phase 11 christened “Light of the Nation Estate”.
The Ngozika estate was mapped out in 2000 during the regime of Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju and was supervised by the Ministry of Works and Housing.
At its inception, it was planned to accommodate 1000 housing units but some political hiccups led to its abandonment. In 2006 when the present administration came into being, the estate was handed over to the Anambra State Housing Corporation.
The Corporation inherited 200 housing units consisting of four, three, two and one bedroom bungalows which were at various levels of development.
While striving to complete the inherited uncompleted houses, the Corporation created additional 241 plots which it allocated to interested developers on site and services basis and ceded 81 plots to the landowners as compensatory plots.
However, there was a set back as the Housing Corporation could not complete the houses due to financial constraints which forced it to sell the uncompleted houses out rightly to individuals so as to raise funds to expand the estate.
The inability of the allottees to pay fully for the houses they purchased complicated the financial situation of the Corporation until Governor Obi bailed them out with a grant of N550 million released in two instalments between October, 2008 and February, 2009.
With the money, the Corporation initiated the Ngozika phase 1 extension which consisted of high brow prototype one storey buildings. Each plot was put at N3.95 million, with additional N730,000 development levy. The plots were fully purchased and even oversubscribed as soon as they were advertised.
Encouraged by the success recorded in the phase 1 and its extension, the Corporation planned the Ngozika Estate phase 11 which is to be handled by a private developer, the Rockland Development Ltd and which Governor Obi has flagged off.
As the Special Adviser to the Governor on Housing and Urban Development, Mr. Law Chinwuba said, the Ngozika Estate phase 11 was designed out of a deliberate answer to accommodate upper middle income and the top echelon of the society.
He said: “The design options are strictly for four –bedroom and five-bedroom of fully detached houses on two floors. The estate comes with full compliments of facilities such as roads with drainages, electricity, shopping mall, water, fire station, tennis courts, clinics, police post, club houses, restaurants, nursery and primary schools and contained in the gated fenced area.
“Our aim, among others things, is to provide an estate where Anambrarians who live in Ikoyi in Lagos, Asokoro and Maitama in Abuja and good neighbourhoods abroad, can live whenever they visit home.”
Going by his assurance, the Ngozika phase 11 would be fully realized in 36 months from this July. And with the proposed Awka Golf Course close to the estate, the rich in the society would soon begin to scramble for spaces there.
Mr. Pius Onwuegbusi who is the chairman of the Ngozika Estate Residents Association said it is a privilege to own a house in the sprawling estate, noting that the ideal environment being enjoyed by the residents could not have been possible without the support of the governor.
He however observed that there were many exit routes through which people could sneak in and out of the estate and pleaded with the state government to direct for the fencing of the area to safeguard lives and property.