What to expect in Apapa property market as gridlock ends
The return of sanity in Apapa in the wake of an electronic call-up system that has, in a magical fashion, taken away truck from its roads and bridges, has raised expectations in the port city’s property market.
It is expected that as people can now drive freely from either the Lagos Island or other areas on the Mainland to do business in Apapa, companies, especially banks, may return and reopen for business. That means increase in business activities and in the number of people.
When there are more people and businesses operating at full capacity, demand for property will rise. People will need office space or shops and would like to live close to their offices and business premises. That means landlords will start receiving alerts from their banks once again.
Yes, some of us invested in property here with the hope that income from rents will keep us going as retirees. But most of our houses are empty. Now that the roads are free and people can drive into Apapa, we are hoping that the houses will be occupied again and rents are paid,” Ayo Vaughan, a resident, said.
It is hoped that the property market here may start seeing fresh investment interests. Investors will see opportunities in A-grade warehousing to accommodate the expected increase in the volume of business activities spilling over from the ports.
Again, investors will see opportunity in neighbourhood shopping malls and eateries that can provide quick and flexible services as opposed to the formalised services offered by big outlets like Shoprite in Apapa Mall.
Apart from property value appreciation, the high vacancy rate will come down considerably. That means all abandoned properties will start yielding reasonable income for their owners as opposed to the present situation that has made the properties dead capital.
Apapa in the last 10 years of traffic gridlock has been under siege. Its property market has been quiet and dormant. Transaction has been a matter of convenience while demand and supply have been pretty low.
Retirees who invested their life savings in residential property have been sulking for loss of rental income. It is estimated that 40 percent of residential buildings in the port city are unoccupied while rental income loss is in the region of N200 million per annum.
“House rent in Apapa has been static at N2.5 million per annum for a 3-bedroom apartment, down from N4.5 million, within the GRA. No reasonable landlord is talking about rent increases, knowing that no new tenant is out there in search of a house to rent,” Uche Chiejina, an estate manager, said.
Now that the gridlock, which literally made Apapa a dreaded destination for living and business, is gone and sanity has returned, it is expected that the property market will pick up again.
Residents and businesses that have fled to saner environments may consider coming back to their homes and business premises, respectively, meaning that many of the unoccupied buildings will come alive again with an uptick in business activities.
Though Chiejina reasoned that it might take a while before residents and businesses that left would start coming back, Joseph Akhigbe, an estate surveyor and valuer, differs, saying as a major business hub with port activities going on, it will not be long before businesses, especially banks, start coming back.
Akhigbe recalled that people used to come from all over Lagos to do business in Apapa due to the opportunities it offered, but that stopped because of gridlock caused mainly by bad roads and corruption.
Wharf Road and Commercial Road used to be the ‘Central Business Districts’ of this port city, where big firms and banks had their offices and branches. A walk through these ‘districts’ shows that most of the banks have either relocated or have the number of their branches reduced.
On Wharf Road alone, more than 10 banks and two eateries have shut down their branches due to the pain and difficulty in accessing these branches, leading to loss of a good number of customers.
Unity Bank, for instance, which used to have four branches, now has two, Ecobank with eight branches has reduced them to four and Access Bank with seven branches also cut down to four.
Eateries like Tetrazini has shut down, Tantalizer with three outlets has reduced to one and the only Mr Biggs eatery in Apapa on Creek Road is now out of the market. Film House Cinema inside Apapa Mall has also shut down. Even the famous Apapa Amusement Park has been shut down due to low patronage.
After several failed attempts, including a Presidential Task Team (PTT) on Apapa Gridlock headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, to crack the Apapa traffic riddle, the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), working in collaboration with the Lagos State government introduced an electronic call-up system to control truck movement.
The call-up system introduced last week Saturday, February 27, has succeeded in keeping the trucks off the roads for the fourth day running. Residents, businesses and other stakeholders in Apapa have hailed this initiative, hoping it will be sustained.