A five year plan to address housing deficit in Lagos State has been unveiled.
The plan involves the construction of at least 187,500 housing units on annual basis for a period of five years in order to meet the current 2.5 million housing deficit in Nigeria’s economic nerve centre.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode who made this known at the 2016 World Habitat Day, said that the demand for shelter and new houses had continued to rise due to population growth, increasing urbanisation as hundreds of people move into the state on a daily basis.
Governor Ambode added that the housing units would be targeted at medium and low income earners.
“Shelter ranks next to food as a human necessity and one of the social responsibilities of government; provision of affordable houses remains a major focus of this administration and in our quest to make life comfortable for the people; we are determined to achieve this via policy initiatives such as Rent-To-Own scheme, Outright Purchase Home Ownership, Public/Private Partnership and strengthening the Lagos Home Ownership Mortgage Scheme,” he said.
The Governor pledged to check the excesses of developers who were in the habit of flouting building regulations in the state as he stressed that government had initiated structures that would simplify access to land, issuance of certificate of occupancy and planning permit in the state as well as documentation.
“We will ensure that in our bid to address housing challenges, we will ensure safety and not compromise standards, we will go tough on developers that flout the state’s regulations and ensure the safety of our people” he noted.
A former President, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners, Mr Waheed Kadri enumerated factors militating against housing in Nigeria such as acquisition and revocation.
Mr Kadri challenged cooperatives societies and Community Development Associations to take up the responsibilities of investing more in housing for the people.
The United Nations Habitat Programme Manager in Nigeria, Mr Kabir Yari called for a major shift in government policies by putting housing at the centre of urban planning.
Mr Yari hinted that socially and environmentally sustainable towns should be evolved by national and state governments across countries of Africa and the world to frontally tackle housing deficit.
Nigerian Human Rights Lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, commended the state government on the passage of the law on land grabbing, saying it would alleviate the plight of land owners.
Mr Falana decried the high cost of government houses, which he said were only accessible for the elites and not the poor masses.
“Instead of building new houses that the masses cannot afford, government should subsidize the cost of building materials so that more people can afford to build their own houses,” he said.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria also called for the establishment of State Police Service Commission to curtail the rate of kidnapping in the state.
On his part, the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr Abiola Anifowose, said that Lagos Metropolitan Area had attained a Mega City status due to its population of over 21 million.
“This status is not only challenging to housing provision, but exerts pressure on infrastructure in the state, this administration is repositioning strategies of delivering decent and affordable housing units to the citizens of Lagos,” he said.
In 1985, the United Nations General Assembly designated the first Monday of October of every year as World Habitat Day.
It is a day to reflect on the condition of cities and towns as well as the basic rights of all to adequate shelter.
The theme for this year’s commemoration is “Housing at the Centre.”