Awka – The Federal Government should de-emphasize the unilateral policy it has adopted for housing development across all the states of the Federation.
This is because some states unlike the others, do not have the luxury of massive land mass, and has the need to maximize the use of their lands.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Anambra State Housing Development Corporation, Architect Willie Okafor made the appeal on Monday in Awka while reacting to issues of housing deficit experienced in the state raised by citizens and the government’ seeming silence over the issue.
Statistics show that Anambra is the second smallest state in Nigeria after Lagos and is also the state that has the second-highest population density in the country.
As a result of this, cost of land, which is a critical asset in housing development, has become very expensive, due to the high demand for it and the very low mass.
It was gathered that due to the nature of the Federal Government Housing Policies which is usually single-story buildings, it has not been feasible for Anambra State to tap into the various schemes to provide housing facilities for its people.
Architect Okafor revealed that it is the plan for Anambra, to develop high-rise buildings, which he said is the real mass housing, to be able to accommodate more people on the same space of land.
This he noted, will ensure judicious use of the scarce lands in the state.
“I have had to meet with some institutions of the Federal Government that encourage housing development like the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, the Family Home front, and many others. They have all kinds of policy such as affordable housing, mass housing, and low-income housing. Now, these housing policies are good but they cannot suffice for a state like Anambra with serious land challenge. This is a major mitigating factor against an effective housing development in Anambra State,” he maintained.
The Anambra Housing Development boss advocated that the Federal Government considers developing separate housing policies for different states in consideration of their individual peculiarities.
“Different locations should have different considerations in developing housing policies for states in Nigeria. It is a known fact that the Northern part of this country is blessed with ample lands while the Southeastern part does not have such luxury. As a result of this, the type of housing policy you adopt, say for states like Nassarawa or Kogi, with very large landmass, should not be the same for a state like Anambra. In Nassarawa, land is not a challenge but in Anambra, it is. While you will be able to develop bungalows in Nassarawa, we cannot afford same in Anambra because here we want high-rise buildings. This is to ensure that more people are contained in a building you put up in the same space you would have built a bungalow. By this arrangement, we are trying to encourage high-rise buildings. So the Federal Government should apply some flexibility because you cannot have a common housing policy for every area. In developed countries like the US and Dubai, that is what obtains. This will also ensure that the cost of land is not way higher than the development you put on it,” he explained.
Arch Okafor however noted that to develop such high rise infrastructure, requires so much money, but will help address permanently, the housing deficit.
He advised that the Federal Government should interface with Anambra to identify the kind of structure needed to address the housing challenges in the state and be able to provide the necessary funds for such while the state provides its counterpart.
According to him, any policy other than this, will not yield any meaningful result in the effort to solve the housing deficit question.
Arch Okafor expressed the hope that in the next few years, there will be an explosion in housing services in the state and help bring down the cost of rent across parts of the state.
This is because of the numerous partnership engagements which the state government has entered into with private sector investors in housing development.
“What we are trying to do is to add more to the housing stock. If you build a house and peg the rent at a price and after two years, nobody comes to rent, what do you do? You bring down the rent. So, by adding more to the housing stock through the various housing developments across the state, we will be bringing the cost of rent down because these things are guided by the forces of demand and supply,” he explained.
The Housing Development Expert harped on the need for communities to wade into the issue of youths who have turned scavengers, demanding outrageous sums from government as compensation for lands taken for various infrastructural projects and even going to destroy structures on ground when such demands are not met.
This he said, has made truncated many housing and other infrastructural development projects envisioned by Anambra State Government in many communities.
“Many housing and other infrastructural development projects envisioned by Anambra State Government have been truncated by the supposed host communities who demand outrageous compensation for the lands. It is unfortunate that some of our youths have decided not to do anything with their lives and only focus on selling communal lands. It is important that our people understand that all lands belong to the government but even at that, Anambra government still pays compensation. We, therefore, appeal to community leaders to educate their youths, as they cannot be complaining about lack of government presence in their areas when they are actually responsible for such,” he concluded.