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More landlords may become renters as 80% Ibeju Lekki buildings unapproved

More Lagos landlords seen becoming renters as 80% of buildings in Lekki corridor unapproved

Many more people who today pride themselves as landlords in Lagos, particularly those who have built their homes in the Ibeju-Lekki and Epe areas of the state, risk becoming tenants as the state government has said that about 80 percent of buildings in that corridor are unapproved.

Since Oluyinka Olumide, the Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, made this revelation in a chat with newsmen, apprehension and fear of the unknown have become the order of the day among those who own those unapproved buildings.

The fear and apprehension stem from the spate of buildings demolition sweeping through the state for reasons, the government says, borders on lack of building approvals or buildings erected in government-acquired locations. These buildings could be demolished any day and the owners thrown back to the rental market where they started out.

“Just last week Thursday and Friday, myself and the team were in the Ibeju Lekki and Epe axis and you would agree with me that anybody passing through that corridor would see a lot of estates marked. We went there, and I can tell you that from what we saw, over 80 percent of them do not have approval.

“The procedure to get approval is first to get the planning information, as to what those areas have been zoned for. In this case, what we have is agricultural land, and people now go to their families to buy agricultural land. Of course, those lands would be sold because those families do not know the use such land would be put to,” the commissioner said.

Continuing, he said, “The next thing to do is the fence permit. If you missed the earlier information on not knowing the area’s zoning, at the point of getting the fence permit, you would be able to detect what the area is zoned for.”

Though the commissioner did not state it explicitly, the expectation is that many of these buildings, like those in other parts of the states, will be reduced to rubbles by the angry teeth of the state’s rampaging bulldozers.

Read also: Lagos says 80% of buildings in Lekki lack approval

The state government under Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s watch has, in the last couple of months, gone on building demolition in a manner that has defied understanding of the real intent and goal in a city where many find homes under the bridge and other odd places.

A priest at the Celestial Life Ministry has described the state government’s demolition binge as a genocide against non-indigenes from a certain part of the country. The priest, in a trending video, reasoned that the demolition is targeted at these people because they did not vote for the state governor in the last election.

To some housing stakeholders and close watchers of developments in the state’s housing sector, the commissioner’s statement on the unapproved buildings comes as a surprise given that the same Lekki is adjudged the fastest developing real estate corridor in West Africa.

“If this part of the state that is just developing does not have building approval, then there is something quite worrying about planning regulation and monitoring in a state that calls itself centre of excellence,” Emmauel Ibeneme, a property consultant, told our reporter Tuesday morning.

Though the government explains that all the buildings demolished so far, which run into hundreds of thousands, have no approval from its authorities, Ibeneme notes that “demolition has been so frenetic that it has no respect for locations. It happens everywhere and anywhere and so, affects everybody and anybody.”

As good and justified as the government’s explanations seem, the demolition of buildings is seen as a needless and avoidable waste that hurts not just the lives and livelihood of the owners, but also the economy of the state in particular and Nigeria at large.

“Buildings demolition is good, more so if such buildings contravene physical planning and approval laws. But it would have been better if such houses were not allowed to be built at all. Government needs to be proactive and not reactive by preventing such buildings from being built,” Hakeem Oguniran, CEO, Eximia Realty, noted.

Read also: Beyond rent: 5 ways landlords, tenants can build enduring relationship

Samuel Ukpong, former chairman of Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valers (NIESV), Lagos Chapter, agrees, stressing that “no state or country that demolishes people’s houses, almost willfully as we have seen in Lagos, prospers because buildings are symptoms of prosperity.”

Ukpong wondered where the government agency and its officials responsible for giving planning approval for houses had been when the builders started, continued, completed and packed into the buildings, after which they come out with their bulldozer to demolish people’s sweat and lives saving.

Before now, Lagos had carried out demolition in the highbrow Banana Island, Ajao Estate, Ikota in Lekki area of the state, and Abule-Ado, Oriade Local Council Development Area (LCDA) where many residents of King’s Royal Estate, 91 Road, Festac Phase 2, were rendered homeless.

Recently, the state with its angry bulldozers moved to other parts of the state with a huge dent on many private estates including Mende Estate at Kosofe Local Government Area of the state where the state Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Tokunbo Wahab, was angry with home owners who condemned the demolition of their buildings.

“The developer who is sponsoring many of you knew what he was doing. He encroached on the part for which he was not approved. If you build beyond the approved plan, you have violated the conditions of approval, and your approval becomes entirely invalid. As they say, ‘The wheel of justice may be slow, but one day, it will grind to a halt,” the commissioner said.