BY: Arc. B. S. Haiba (FNIA) MD, Abuja Property Development Company
This paper shall lay emphases on the (low-income) housing issues
The FCT boundary covers an area of about 7,315km2 with 6 Area Councils namely; Abuja Municipal (Phases I, II, III, & IV), Kuje, Bwari, Gwagwalada, Abaji, Kwali and major settlements planned and unplanned like, Nyanyan/Karu, Orozo, Karshi, Kubwa, Idu/Karmo/Gwagwa, Zuba, Mpape, Dutse Alhaji, Dakwa and many other squatters and shanty settlement that today is the housing stock available and affordable for substantial percentage of the low-income within Abuja environs. Indeed Nyanyan to Keffi Axis, Dakwa to Suleja, Dawaki to Deidei are a continual linear/semi planned and unplanned mass housing settlements for all practical sense of this topic.
Mass housing all over the world are high-rise, high density residential neighborhoods that are located within short distances to employment area or with good mass transit means of transportation connecting the neighborhood to Central Business Districts. Affordable of such housing stock means the units can be procured with 30% of the home takers’ income and completely paid for with about 10 – 15 year period. Condomiums, Apartment blocks, Tower Blocks are example of such.
OVERVIEW OF PRESENT SITUATION
Presently, a large population of low-income and some middle-income earners live in squatters/semi planned settlements mentioned above, they commute four hours daily to and fro the city centre daily with attendant stress on top of environmental hazards when they return home-mostly a night. Utilities, facilities and basic amenities are very limited in these settlements while the rent they pay is comparatively very exorbitant besides many security and social problem.
- Rent for a room and parlour of 18m2 is between N600 – N700 per month which translate to N72,000 – N84,000 per annum (N4,000 – N4,666/m2) with only pit latrines, 7 – 8 years rent for the 6 unit (in average) within the 15m x 30m plot can pay for the whole house and very little infrastructure.
- Within the city’s immediate environs such as Dawaki, Lugbe, Kubwa or even Karu, a 1-bedroom house rent cost about N500,000 – N700,000
2-Bedroom house rent cost about N800,000 – N1,000,000
- Within the city phases I – IV which is planned and some standard infrastructure and facilities are available;
- 1-Bedroom house rent cost about N800,000 – N1,200,000
- 2-Bedroom house rent cost about N1,400,000 – N1,800,000
The so-called ‘Mass Housing Policy’ within the city that offered large acreage on ‘Development Lease’. Furthermore, the quality of infrastructure is very poor,costs are very high, quality of infrastructure is very poor, costs are very high, quality of the little produced is nothing to talk about. Indeed, the success of the policy has been limited.
Most of the developers of the real low-income housing stocks are located at the outskirts of Abuja city. They are individual landlords who are not concerned with provision of infrastructure and their sources of funds are personal savings and exorbitant bank loans. They lack economy of scale, use cost effective technology and not professionally sound.
The real lo-income earners have tremendous challenges in procuring loan, NHF is the only single digit loan available in the market, its conditionalities are many and liquidity base is very limited. To pay even the equity contribution processing, PMI and other charges are a herculean task.
ESTATE DEVELOPMENT LOAN
For the developers the pre-construction cost elements are too many; land, compensation for economic trees, survey, designs, feasibility reports, E.I.R, Business Plans, planning processing and approval fees, site clearance, temporary access to site, mobilization on site, etc and these are costs that banks hardly finance. At site, before any bank advances loans, they need 15% – 20% equity contribution physically on site: collateral of very high value besides all the little documents on the, insurance, legal services etc. these are besides the double digit, interest rate on short-term or maximum 40 – 50years loan ten year loan tenure.
Most of the construction materials and methods employed today are traditional block and motor type, leveraging on modern technology that could give many advantages is hardly employed. Traditional methods are not the most cost effective if we want a high turnover of mass housing stock.
To deliver affordable Mass Housing stock particularly targeting the low-income bracket required addressing comprehensively many issues concerning housing such as follows:
- Policy – the national housing policy is a broad document that gives a general direction but specific guidelines that address peculiar FCT environs needs to be evolved;
- Regional urban planning in a well coordinated manner
- Land allocation, documentation and depository ( AGIS)
- Developer definition guideline role monitoring
- Investor definition guideline, role and monitoring
- Constructor or builder guideline, role and monitoring
- Facility Manager guideline, role and monitoring
Accessibility to housing needs of individuals and families.
- Planning and Design Solutions;
- Location, location, location of the mass housing neighborhood;
- Balanced community design concepts that work/employment clusters near the residential
- High rising/High density development nearby transportation hubs;
- Land use and density re-classification such as mixed land use, brown fields initiatives such as Urban Renewal, Redevelopment etc to leverage on existing location, infrastructure and primacy of land;
- Green Architecture – Layouts, building designs, environmental friendly solutions, pedestrianization, energy efficient designs, materials etc.
III. Infrastructure Provision – The cost of providing city standard infrastructure is very expensive to private developers in the money market today and it cannot be viable to do primary and even some aspects of secondary infrastructure, therefore;
- Primary infrastructure should be seen like security issues and be funded from National/Statutory budgets.
- Funding for secondary infrastructure to and within the mass housing sites should leverage on the revenue generation potentials of the transportation Hubs and mixed land use developments to finance long term loan facility.
- Cost of the tertiary infrastructure within the istes could be passed on to or subsidized by the rent chargeable on the commercial facilities within the housing estates and services such as internet.
- Technology and Construction – The use of new technologies can assist in lowering the cost per square metre for the construction of high ring mass housing units as well as the cost in use such as;
- System building
- Alternative building materials
- New building methods, tools and construction techniques
- Waste to energy solutions
- Exploitation of natural lighting and building trades/services incubation
- Land Acquisition and Documentations
For affordable mass housing, these costs are very high to the developers and ultimately passed down to the uptakers. Therefore;
- Premium, ground rents & consents and other land admin charges should be discounted;
- Resettlement needs a new approach, a more workable and practicable model should be sought.
- Compensation for cashew tress and others be looked into
- Planning approvals fees, consultancy fees chargeable by professionals needs to be discounted.
- Financing for Estate Development and Housing Units Purchase
The cumbersome documentation, bureaucracy costs and frustrations developers and uptakers go through to obtain loan is too much. In my opinion, the most secured loan any financial institution is giving out is for property; it is real, it does not perish, it appreciates, and cannot disappear. So the issue is that of foreclosure in case of default. Therefore, the new property law in process with the National Assembly now will address these concerns; however;
- Long term financing at low interest rate should be provided by relevant institutions for:
- System building industry set up
- Building materials industries
- Estate developments companies
- Translation of building researches into productions
- Building services and facility management companies
- 10 – 15years loan facility should be made easily accessible to the uptakers either as individual or as co-operatives but lower than 5% interest rate particularly the low-income group.
But such facilities must be tied up to deliverable milestones with a robust monitoring and evaluation mechanism.
VII. Special Purpose Scheme and Programmes
The issue of housing affordability is that of subsidy targeted at the lower income and less-privileged. Therefore;
- Social Housing Programme such as Abuja @30 Kpegi should be embarked upon to assist the needy group.
- Co-operatives, Associations and various Schemes for the development and housing purchase finance could be another way to assist members.
- Revolving Loan Schemes for procurement of units by employees of organizations with sizeable number of staff
- Rent-to-own housing schemes
- House trade-in arrangements
- Senior citizens homes
- Youth hostels
- Transit or temporary homes; etc
In conclusion, further to the general suggestions made on the way forward, some specific recommendations could be offered pertaining to the FCT and its surrounding settlements;
- a) FCT needs its specific housing policy, comprehensively framed to address it peculiarities – access to land, developer/constructor, mortgage, ownership securitization, foreclosure, redevelopment
- b) Location, location, location – Within close proximity to the hubs of the National Rail, Commuter Rail, Transit way line and along major Regional routes, large parcels of land should be earmarked from the Master Plan as part of the Strategic Plan for Mass Housing
- c) The low density plots not yet developed near the transportation Hubs (Train Stations in particular) should be re-designed as High Density for High Rising Affordable Mass Housing. So also mix land use introduced accordingly but in a planned manner.
- d) Stakeholders Consultative Forum (Town Hall Meeting) needs to be established for periodic meeting and consultations to address the many challenges of housing delivery – Authorities, Developers, Contractors, Financiers, Professionals, Associations, PMIs, Indigenous communities etc.
- e) Inter-state joint planning commission needs to be more active to address the numerous problems of unplanned squatter settlements along all the axis leading to Abuja – Ecological Fund of the Federation, Donor funding and states funding should be warehoused for schemes such as Renewal, upgrading etc.
- f) Prefab Industries development needs to be supported at the long run because this will benefit mass housing delivery – this could be done through low interest long-term loans and large orders of housing units
- g) Small and medium companies offering building construction services and artisans training needs to be incubated such as plants – plants and equipments leasing, formworks and ironworks, prefabrication, concrete works, Aluminium and steelworks etc
- h) Infrastructure – Primary and Secondary infrastructure should be the responsibility of government. It is the practice in most of the developing world. Therefore, the electorate should demand for it but must be ready to pay tax too. This way, the quality of the housing environment will be habitable.
- i) The issues of housing delivery of any type is multi-disciplinary, it requires a lot of inputs from Sociologists, various professional in the built forms environments, finances etc. But the one most important factor is a good policy from the Authorities that ensure effective management of human and material resources. Above all, Affordable Mass Housing is about subsidizing the cost and ease at which the less-privileged owns his own shelter
Paper presented by;
Arc. B. S. Haiba (FNIA)
MD, Abuja Property Development Company