BY JUDE NJOKU
PRIVATE developers who have been going through the needle’s eye to get their building plans and other documentation approved by the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning & Urban Development, have appealed to the State Government to simplify the process to make it less stressful. The developers noted that despite recent measures adopted by the Ministry to make approvals faster, the process is still too sluggish because some of the demands are uncalled for.
Principal Partner of Amarch Consultants, Arc Obehi Iyamabo noted that many projects that would have taken off in the state are still in the cooler because the promoters have not been able to get the necessary planning approvals.
Arc Iyamabo whose firm is developing the N2.6 billion Grace Court estate at Makoko Yaba said some projects his firm could have begun over a year ago when it had funds, could not takeoff because of the delay in getting approvals.
“Lagos State government makes the approval process very cumbersome. We have people who have projects that get stuck by the time it gets to the issue of approval. There are many projects that we would have started maybe a year ago or at the time when funds were available but we could not start because of approval and I think Lagos state should look at the process of simplifying the approval process so that a lot more projects can get on stream. The construction industry is the largest employer of labour. We have a lot of people roaming the streets but If we have more construction sites, we would have more people off the streets; right from the person that is selling sachet water to workers to the people who are selling food, the labourers, artisans and consultants. The turnover will be much faster. I think the government could do a little better by easing the approval process,” he said.
Managing Director of UACN Property Development Company, Mr Hakeem Ogunniran made a veiled reference to the problem associated with obtaining planning approvals when he alluded to the very challenging process of getting approval for the development of Cameron Green estate.
But the Commissioner for Housing, Mr. Dele Onabokun debunked the claim that getting planning approval in the State is like going through the biblical needles eye. Speaking in a rather emphatic note, the Commissioner who was cornered by Vanguard Homes & Property declared: “I disagree, I disagree! We have simplified the process. For example, in the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, General Managers are given authority to approve bungalows and about two-storey buildings. It is only when you have about seven-storey buildings that it can come to the table of the Governor. The Permanent Secretary, the Hon. Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development have divided all these duties. So, when you get all your documents ready, because we know that by building, you create employment, we don’t delay approvals”.