By Kingsley Adegboye
Against the backdrop of unending clamour for mass housing as solution to housing problem of the country,a Lagos-based estate developer and Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Propertygate Development and Investment Plc, Mr. Adetokunbo Ajayi has noted that there are some structural problems that will not allow mass housing project in Nigeria see the light of the day, except these structural problems are adequately addressed.
Making this known while reviewing property market vis-a-vis activities of real estate developers for the year ending in an interactive session with the media at the weekend, Ajayi said lack of enabling environment by all tiers of government in the country to encourage developers in areas of infrastructure provision such as road networks, power supply, sewage treatment plants, water and early passage of title documents to lands for housing development have remained largely the bane of mass housing delivery in Nigeria.
The Propertygate’s helmsman who said the federal and state government have over the years embarked on mass housing in order to provide affordable shelter for the middle class and those at the lower level as evidence of government’s sensitivity to the welfare of the people, pointed out that the effort failed because of structural problems.
According to him, such effort requires strategic plan for enhanced implementation, arguing that the target beneficiaries of mass housing require minimum facilities in order to take advantage of the opportunity.
“Our expectation as private operators is that the government should provide enabling environment in those areas in order to encourage the target beneficiaries to take advantage of the scheme. The easiest thing government can provide is land. But beyond the land is the issue of facilities such as good road network, sewage, pipe borne water, electricity and a host of others that can bring about enabling environment” Ajayi said.
He however, lamented that due to low income and weak purchasing power of the target beneficiaries; the rich still buy the low-cost houses and let them out to the poor, the ultimate beneficiaries.
On how his firm was able to weather the storm in the year despite the recession, Propertygate boss disclosed that despite the tough operating climate due to the recession, the company had consistently operated profitably.
According to him, factors such as integrity, innovation, excellent customer care and strong and dedicated human capital of the company had helped the business in the year under review, explaining that Propertygate had executed many high-profile projects in the year.
Admitted that the real estate industry had experienced a lot of challenges as a result of the recessionary period, he said “Most high networth clients could not make effective demand due to weak purchasing power. Real estate operators’ ability to import some building materials for finishing had been affected by the high cost of forex.
“Real estate is a capital intensive business. Operators are at the mercy of banks due to high cost of funds and low profitability. Government should create an enabling environment for the real estate operators to enable us operate optimally. But creativity and adherence to quality products and services would continue to define our operational philosophy at Propertygate”, Ajayi said.