• Monday, May 27, 2024
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Housing boom seen as FG plans nationwide land asset free-up

Expectations are high in the housing sector that more land will be freed-up as the Federal Government undertakes auditing and inventory of its land and landed property.

The aim of the exercise is to identify underutilised and dormant ones and free same for housing development.

This move is expected to facilitate the bridging of the nation’s housing deficit which the United Nations estimate puts at 17 million units.

A large portion of government’s landed property in various parts of the country is either locked in or underutilised, government officials say. The present effort is therefore intended to optimise the use of such property.

“The objective of this audit is to update our database on the status of all federal lands and landed property in the country in order to free underutilised lands for housing development and optimise the use of all federal government landed property,” said Akon Eyakenyi, minister of lands, housing and urban development, in Abuja.

Government has also developed a roadmap for the housing and urban development sector as part of efforts at increasing housing delivery and bridging the deficit in the sector, the minister said.

The housing situation in Nigeria is very pathetic. As against the United States 72 percent, 78 percent in UK, 60 percent in China, 54 percent in Korea and 92 percent in Singapore, homeownership level in Nigeria is estimated to be a little above 10 percent.

With a growing population of 170 million and high urbanisation growth rate estimated at 4-5 percent per annum, housing stock in Nigeria is said to be between 10 million and 11 million units while an unconfirmed record shows that about 25 million households of about six members each don’t have homes of their own, leaving the country with a deficit of an estimated 17 million units.

BusinessDay had earlier reported that the Federal Government embarked on a housing survey to help it establish the actual housing deficit figure in the country instead of relying on forecasts, and the quantum of investment needed to meaningfully address the deficit.

These initiatives, aimed at addressing the housing problems in the country, have been hailed by industry experts. This is against the backdrop of the fact that one of the biggest problems plaguing the housing sector in the country is lack of data.

Erejuwa Gbadebo, a real estate consultant, for example, laments that people still quote 17 million housing units deficit many years after because there is no other data to prove or disprove it.

“One of the first things the sector should do is to start taking stock of what is available – what house-types there are, and what they change hands for,” Gbadebo said in an interview with BusinessDay.

“There must be a way of capturing this data so that we can have accurate number that will help us to stop fighting a battle we may have won or will never win,” she added.

There is widespread hope among industry insiders that the property audit would lead to the resuscitation of Federal Government’s housing assets such as the Federal Secretariat and housing estates such as Festac Town, both in Lagos.

“We are making efforts to restore Festac Town to its past glory,” Eyakenyi said. She recalled that her recent visit to the town where she met with key stakeholders was aimed at addressing some of the outstanding issues militating against the restoration of the town.

In line with the objectives of the property audit, the Federal Government recently signed a concession agreement with a consortium of investors on a 30-year lease agreement for the development of Festac Town Phase II.

By that agreement, the consortium under a special purpose vehicle known as New Festac Property Development Company Limited (NFPDCL) will undertake land reclamation, sand filling, infrastructure development, marketing/sale of the over 7,000 plots of land to be created from the reclaimed land, facility management for the 30-year period of the concession before reversion to the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) – the housing development agency of the Federal Government.

Federal Government’s earnings from this project are estimated at N25.765 billion as premium for the 30 years of concession and an additional N150 million ground rent annually. Both parties to the concession have agreed to a review clause of the earnings to reflect market realities with likely higher earnings anticipated at the end of the day.

Isaac Chuks, NFPDCL’s vice chairman, thanked all stakeholders for the confidence reposed in his company. He assured of the company’s full commitment to the noble objectives of the concession in the implementation of the project.