By Kingsley Adegboye
For the umpteenth time, stakeholders in the housing sub-sector of nation’s economy have bemoaned challenges hindering provision of affordable housing in the country, insisting that lack of clear-cut policy on housing provision by governments at all levels is responsible.
The stakeholders who gathered last week in Lagos at the media launch of a new corporate identity and Brand Ambassador unveiling by Knightstone Properties Ltd, said however, that “if we are to succeed in our quest for provision of affordable housing, particularly for low income earners, there is an urgent need for government at all levels to approach the subject holistically, sincerely and with a great deal of commitment.
In his keynote address, Group Managing Director, HFP Engineering Nig. Ltd, Mr. Dele Martins who spoke on “Bridging the Housing Deficit Gap in Nigeria”, noted that the true scale of the housing deficit challenge can be gleaned from the fact that it is estimated that 108 million Nigerians are ‘homeless’ based on an average family of six people per housing unit, adding that several factors have been adduced by analysts and experts in the real estate and allied sectors for the absence of affordable housing in Nigeria.
According to Martins, represented by Mr. Kingsley Omojola, Executive Director, HFP Engineering, these factors include unfavourable government policies, lack of mortgages for potential buyers and unstable investment environment, difficulties and lack of transparency associated with acquiring affordable land for development, bureaucracy associated with obtaining title documents to acquired or transferred land, exorbitant cost of consent and other fees associated, and unavailability and difficulty of accessing affordable mortgages for the purchase of houses by individuals.
Others are bureaucracy and difficulties associated with obtaining building and other regulatory approvals. Others include high and escalating cost of building materials, over-dependence on imported building materials, non-alignment of the interests of the various stakeholders particularly the developers, commercial and mortgage banks on the one hand and the intended beneficiaries of affordable housing on the other.
They also include the desire of developers to maximize profit while buyers want cheap decent and affordable housing, absence of fiscal incentives by government to make affordable housing development attractive, lack of provision of primary infrastructure required to support the development of affordable estates including roads as well as access to water and electricity by government and indiscipline and corruption in the implementation of affordable housing schemes.
Explaining that the importance of housing to the citizenry is underscored by the fact that it is next to food in order of importance, he said government at all levels need to lead the formulation of a comprehensive policy designed with the input of all stakeholders, and implemented with zeal and vigour at all levels, emphasising that at the heart of every policy must be the interest of the target beneficiaries of affordable housing.
Chairman of Knightstone Properties Ltd, Mr. Adeniyi Adams who lamented lack of enabling environment to stimulate housing provision in the country, said if primary infrastructure such as network of roads, drainage system, electricity and water with minimal cost of land are provided by the government, developers can build affordable houses for Nigerian masses.
Adams said lack of effective mortgage system in the country is another major constraint to provision of affordable housing, and averred that if there is effective and functional mortgage system in the country, prospective home owners will be able to obtain mortgage loans to facilitate ownership, thereby closing the huge housing deficit gap of the country.
Mr. Chudi Ubosi of Ubosi Eleh & Co, a firm of estate surveyors and valuers, said there is market for all segments of the society for houses being built across the country by developers, lamenting however, that lack of functional mortgage system in the country is a major constraint militating against provision of affordable housing in Nigeria.