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Monday, December 4, 2023

FG to award survey contracts for nationwide housing scheme

The Federal Government’s proposed new housing scheme has attracted professionals in the built environment, especially mapping experts, who are expected to delineate 1,800 hectares into plots, writes Chinedum Uwaegbulam.

Hopes have brightened with the dawn of the era for Nigerians aspiring to become homeowners under the federal housing scheme, with the appropriation of N100 billion for the Renewed Hope estates and cities project.

The Guardian learnt that following the Senate endorsement of the budget, surveyors, especially members of the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors (NIS) are already jostling for survey jobs in the proposed sites. Some of the surveyors have reached out to some officials in the ministry, making enquiries on how to provide their services to the scheme.

Already, the Federal Ministry of Housing and Urban Development has written to all state governors seeking land for the project, at no cost from the state governments. It was gathered that most of the governments have indicated interest to be part of the scheme and allocated land to the ministry.

About 50 hectares are expected from the 36 state governments, totaling 1,800 hectares, which will be delineated into plots at the various sites. About 27,000 plots are expected from the states in the proposed 34,500-housing scheme, while the rest may be domiciled in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Sources hinted that the federal authorities plan to announce tender for some of the professional jobs and contracts in locations that the state governments have given their nod. Phase 1 is expected to create 240,000 jobs for professionals, contractors and artisans.

Although details are sketchy on the proposed surveying of over 34,500 plots, sources hinted that the housing project would commence early next year after the mapping experts have submitted the completed layouts to the government.

Under phase 1, 34,500 homes will be sponsored through the Federal Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), and through Public-Private Partnerships with reputable developers.

It consists of a mix of one, two and three-bedroom affordable bungalows; multi-level flats to cater to low-medium income earners and terrace and detached bungalows and duplexes for the high-income earners in select state capitals including Lagos, Kano, Borno, Nasarawa, Port Harcourt, Enugu, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The Guardian also gathered that some of the locations may be dedicated to sites and services scheme, which has been moribund for several years. Under the scheme, development-ready plots are provided with necessary infrastructure and sold to individuals for housing construction.

The scheme amongst others aimed at increasing the pace of affordable housing supply in Nigeria without compromising wholesomeness of estates and neighbourhoods, as well as addressing peculiar housing needs of different categories of persons with special focus on the middle-income earners.

The programme was also meant to encourage individuals, corporate bodies and other employers of labour to join the government in the task of reducing national housing shortages and promoting community cohesion and shared responsibilities.

According to a source, the first phase scored remarkable success in all parameters of evaluation including; number of lands freely released and acquired from state governments; number of plots allocated per annum; number of secured titles issued; number of housing units started and completed and level of basic services provided in each site.

For example, during its first phase, about 8,083 plots for residential, commercial and industrial developments were allotted to people in Enugu, Lagos, Anambra, Imo, Kano, Kwara, Ondo and Rivers. Out of these numbers, Lagos received the lions’ share of about 80 per cent, as a total of 5,426 plots were allotted to members of the public in the three sites located at Isheri –Olofin, Abesan and Satellite town.

At the Isheri-Olofin site, a total of 2,479 plots were disposed of in three categories, involving 248 plots given out under the low-income category, 1,390 residential plots allotted in the medium income category and 841 plots allotted to others.

The Guardian learnt that as at 1992, about 10 States were covered and more than 9,000 allottees had benefitted.

Laying credence to this, a senior official of the Federal Ministry of Housing and Urban Development told The Guardian that the scheme played a visible role in arresting the proliferation of quasi-slum communities through strict guidance of private sector drive for housing supply.

One of the glowing stories of the sites and services programme, he said, was the successful execution of self-financing highbrow estates for the wealthy at Banana Island, Ikoyi Foreshore, Osborne Road (Phases I & 2 in Lagos) and the generation of surplus funds to treasury to cross-subsidise funding of estates for the low- income earners.

According to him, the scheme continued to expand satisfactorily for several years, covering at least 25 States and the FCT, with the existence of multiple housing estates and sites within each benefitting state and more than 25,000 plot allocations issued in addition to issuance of Certificate of Occupancy and other registered titles.

However, recent findings by The Guardian showed that the pace of implementation of the once applauded national sites and services programme seen by stakeholders in the built environment, as a game changer in efforts at addressing the nation’s housing deficits has slowed down.

Realities on the ground also suggest that the federal and state governments have abandoned its implementation for the Private Public Partnership arrangement (PPP).

MEANWHILE, the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Ahmed Dangiwa, disclosed that the proposed new housing estates and cities are part of government efforts to promote integrated and functional communities in the country.

The minister outlined the following mix of ownership options for potential beneficiaries. This includes leveraging the FMBN to enable beneficiaries to access single mortgage loans payable over 30 years using the NHF mortgage loan window, Primary Mortgage Banks, and the mechanism of the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) to enable beneficiaries, who desire homes that are beyond the range offered by FMBN to access home loans at commercial rates.

“We plan to partner the private sector developers to sell the high-end buildings at commercial rates so we can apply the profits towards reducing the cost of the units targeting low-income earners” he added.

Dangiwa said off-takers would also be encouraged to own the homes using the FMBN Rent-to-Own housing product, which allows contributors to the NHF scheme to move into a home without equity payment and pay towards ownership over a maximum of 30 years depending on their age.

“To increase affordability, we are also exploring Public Rental where Nigerians who cannot afford to own their homes can rent housing units and pay on a monthly basis. They will also have an option to own the houses when their incomes improve,” he added.

“With the above affordability mix, Nigerians within the low- and medium-income brackets will have a wide range of convenient homeownership options to choose from to own their homes,” he said.

To deliver this, the minister said the ministry will need the support of state governors in accessing free land as their contribution to the government’s plans to deliver affordable housing to all segments of the population.

“Land is a major component of housing cost, so by state governors giving us land, we would be ticking off a huge cost that will make it possible for the ministry to deliver the houses at a price that Nigerians can afford,” he added.

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