2023 Shelter Conference: Experts, Enthusiasts Deliberate Solutions To Housing Problems

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Benin - Mediaage NG News – Housing enthusiasts on Monday at the 2023 Shelter Conference spoke on measures to be utilised in fighting the causes of hinderances to the production of affordable houses in Edo State and the country at large.

While panelists at the Day One of the event, coordinated by Dr. Diaku, gave their views on how the country’s housing sector can grow, contributing opinions from the audience were not left out.

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Mr. Ayo Babajide of WTF Construction Limited acknowledged the 28 million housing deficits in the country but, asked what probable solutions have been put in place to bridge the deficit. He said in trying to reduce these deficits, and despite the enormity of the task, there must be a starting point.

“As at today, we have over 28 million housing deficit but, we have to put into structure how many bricklayers will be needed, how many artisans would they need, how many plots of lands are needed to start bridging these gaps? Where are these houses to be located? Many questions are been asked but, very minimal results are gotten, he said.

MediaageNG 2023 Shelter Conference: Experts, Enthusiasts Deliberate Solutions To Housing Problems Benin - Mediaage NG News - Housing enthusiasts on Monday at the 2023 Shelter Conference spoke on measures to be utilised in fighting the causes of hinderances to the production of affordable houses in Edo State and the country at large.
Day One of the 2023 Shelter Conference.

“You must start from somewhere. The problem is that, most of the time, it looks as if we are so afraid of the enormity of the problem and we don’t just want to start from somewhere. Where is the start up? We must begin from the point of understanding that all Nigerians need a roof over their heads. It’s about human rights, it’s a constitutional right for all all Nigerians to be sheltered.

“So, if we start from there, we need to ask ourselves what is the most critical need to put a roof over each and everyone? It is money but, where will it come from?

“Nigeria operates a government dominated system, every thing starts and ends with the government. If the government will provide the money, parts of the problems will be solved. If the society will also understand the importance of this, they can solve parts of the problems.

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“But, looking at it holistically, the government, the society, the institutions and investors should see it as a project that must be done”, Mr. Babajide said.

Patrick Zegar, representing the Edo State Development and Property Corporation said challenges in regards to delivery of affordable housing is enormous and categorised these challenges into cultural, traditional and financial factors.

“As a Quantity Surveyor, I look at these from the angle of costing. Costing comes as a result of what is designed. So, housing provision for the people of Edo State, the 28 million housing deficit is a far cry from what the actual figures are, he said.

“Looking at the state alone, the housing deficit here is huge, let alone the nation in general, it’s a far cry from reality. The question is how can these houses which are necessities of life be made affordable and available for people in need of them. It’s a huge challenge”, Mr. Zegar, a Quantity Surveyor, whose experience has spanned over thirty years in the construction industry, said.

Mr. Zegar also listed lack of funding as a problem to the provision of affordable housing and it makes it imperative for government support to be present.

“The government can create the enabling environment by providing the infrastructure in making this happen”, he said.

The banking system also was an area he felt need to be structured in ways of providing mortgage loans not difficult for developers who have the zeal to provide affordable housing, to access. Assessing loans he said is made difficult for developers through high interest rates.

Therefore, while calling for a regulation by the government through a benchmark for interest of rates on loans provided by banking institutions, he said it will make it easy for developers to provide affordable homes.

Surv. Rodgers Isiokherhe, the vice chairman of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Edo State branch said avenues of acquiring lands go a long way in determining the kind of houses built in the state. He blamed some thugs who make it difficult in acquiring lands for building.

He said most top government officials today were beneficiaries of government mortgage loans they took in building their houses when the system was good. He advised that more mortgage loans put on ground for the people.

“The mortgage system today is so bad, unlike the past when civil servants got their houses through mortgages. The land policy must also be looked into”, he said.

Nosa Omere, the CEO, WTF Construction Limited said the provision of affordable housing must go hand in hand with infrastructure development, therefore, more need to be done in the education sector to make room for the training of experienced and qualified artisans.

“Nigeria is supposed to be the biggest country in Afirca and should be doing better in the provision of affordable housing than other countries in the continent, she said.

“Ensuring the provision of affordable housing goes hand in hand with infrastructure that is taken care of by the government, not the owners of houses.

“In accessing lands, developers should be allowed to deal directly with the owners of lands that have Certificates of Occupancy.

She questioned the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) to explain how the contributions made from the National Housing Fund (NHF) have been utilised, citing an experience she had while working with the private sector.

“I paid money into FMBN, while working for thirty years for different private organisations and my salary was being deducted at a rate of 7.5 percent and my employers were supposed to contribute at this rate too. Where’s the money today? She asked.

“The primary mortgage Institutes are the bank that get money from the FMBN to build these houses because your money is being deducted. The prices of the houses are fixed and the type of house you get is dependent on the level of the salary you receive and also depends on the primary mortgage Institute the deductions were assigned to whatever is your salary”

She called on the government to emulate other countries in the continent like Ivory Coast, who are good at providing conducive environments for trained skill workers in the housing industry to excel.

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