By Kingsley Adegboye
Against the backdrop of the need to create new settlements, towns, boost socio-economic activities in rural areas and reduce rural-urban migration, Lagos state government plans to build 50 housing units in each Local Government Area of the state.
Disclosing this at an interview session with press men in his office, the state commissioner for housing, Prince Gbolahan Lawal, said the new policy of the state government is to build 50 housing units in each LGA across the state in order to create new settlements, towns and boost socio-economic activities in rural areas as a way of reducing rural-urban migration in the state.
Gbolahan who noted that Ambode administration believes in collaboration with LGAs as it is being done in other countries, pointed out that the state is constrained by its land mass, hence the resolve to develop the rural areas and their environs. He added however, that “If you want to reduce rural-urban migration, you must be able to stimulate socio-economic activities in rural areas and their environs. For instance, look at Epe, it is close to Lekki where we have the Free Trade Zone. So, people can conveniently live in Epe and Lekki which is just about 10 minutes’ drive to the FTZ”.
Explaining that the state does not have enough land to build more houses in the metropolis, the commissioner said “So, we cannot say we want to have 200 housing units in a place like the Lagos Island for instance. The area is already congested. This is why we must find a way around it.
“So, with 50 housing units in each LGA, and with our one-in-sixteen model that is on the way, it means we just need like three blocks to develop 50 housing units in each LGA. This means that we won’t need so much land for the houses. Again, because of the problem of productivity of workforce, we want people to live near where they work; while we are working on other social infrastructure. With that, we will be able to have growth”, he said.
Gbolahan who disclosed that Lagos land mass is just 3, 750 square kilometres, informed that “Now we have to go vertical way of construction in order to accommodate more houses and people. So, in our estates, we encourage four floors and as physical infrastructure facilities improve, we can move up to six floors. Our physical planning regime will change.
“When that time comes, the Physical Planning Ministry will adjust the policy of government where it says you cannot go above four floors in certain areas. Rapid population is a major concern. The growth rate is 2.8 percent; but is housing growth rate commensurate with population growth rate? The answer is no. So, we have to find a way of making the hinterland liveable, making economic activities expand to those places so that it will help in reducing rural urban migration”, Gbolahan noted.
On the 2.5 million housing units deficit in the state, the commissioner for housing who said about 600,000 people come to Lagos yearly, stated that it is for government to say can we do the 2.5 million houses in four years?
According to him, it is possible but it is a challenge, adding however, that where is the space? “Is the construction method of the 2.5 million houses going to be the same traditional way of construction? Are we going to use technology whereby we will be manufacturing homes? Our job is to build affordable homes, so we have to also look at the cost.
“As government, I cannot come out and say my one bedroom apartment is N10 million. So, we have to look at the cost of a unit. But if you are looking at the high end homes, then no problem because if that is what you choose, you should be ready to pay for the extras. But for the homes government wants to build which is to be made practical, we will have to continue to subsidise it. 25 per cent subsidy is already in those our LagosHOMS as the cost of infrastructure and land are already deducted.
“So, our prices are competitive. But on the 2.5 million houses in five years, the idea is this, the deficit we have now is 1.6 million; but for us to close the gap to forestall more deficit, we must be able to say lets put the deficit at 2.5 million. But with the way we build, only government funding with tax payers money, you and I know that it will be difficult because there are too many pressing needs for the state.
“Technology and private sector must come in to make this possible. We need primary and secondary mortgage banks to partner with us so that we can look at the mortgage and construction finance aspect of housing”, Gbolahan stated.