Experience has been that when civil servants indicate interest to buy houses, the long period it takes to secure mortgage loans denies them the opportunity of buying same
Abuja, for some people, is a city of mixed opportunities. It is also a city where you can find everything, from employed and the unemployed, blue-collar and the white-collar jobbers, the business people and even petty criminals.
In this city of mixed multitudes, both the upper, middle class and even the lower class persons coexist, jostling for what life and the fortunes and opportunities can offer.
Whichever category of class you fall into, the city of Abuja can always give you a shield of protection.
One of the greatest challenges faced by residents in the city is that of high cost of living, from food to shelter, etc Abuja is increasingly acquiring the status of an expensive city.
As a result of the expanding population of the city, the available house becomes insufficient and existing infrastructures are also overstretched.
A room self- contained apartment in the fringes of Abuja can go for as high as N4,000,000 a year , while a two bedroom flat apartment is given within the rates of N1,000,000 depending on the location.
The high cost of living has contributed to the large number of private houses in the FCT that have remained unoccupied years after they have been completed by their owners.
Investigation by housing news revealed that In spite of numerous housing estates in various parts of the city, put rents for a two-bedroom bungalow in Maitama, Asokoro, Wuse and Garki at between N2.3 million and N2 million per annum.
While cost of the same apartment in the satellite towns of the FCT such as Kubwa, Lugbe and Karu, among others, at between N700, 000 and N1.1 million per annum in private housing estates.
Housing news further learnt that the high cost of renting houses in the FCT, are mostly occupied by civil servants.
A cross section residents said that they have on many occasions, drawn the attention of the government to the activities of private estate developers in that regard, soliciting urgent action to high cost accommodation problems.
A resident of Garki 11, Mrs Esther Umar, appeal to government to make it easier for residents to access land and build their own houses.
“the only and surest way of making houses available and affordable to low income earners in the FCT and other major cities in the country.
“Houses that have been left unoccupied for six months should also be confiscated by the authorities and auctioned to residents who need them,“ she said.
She further advice the government to regulate the prices of houses and establish appropriate rent tribunals to check the activities of shylock landlords, particularly in the Abuja.
Another, Mr John Obi, a civil servant, said that if the Federal Government restructure the mortgage institution framework in a way that it would take the interest of civil servants into cognisance.
“Government should restructure the scheme where civil servants, especially those working in the FCT, are allocated plots of land and asked to develop same within a time frame,’’ he said.
On his a resident of Kubwa, Muhhamed Ahmadu , said the FCT Administration should construct affordable mass housing estates in different parts of the area councils such as it did in the 80s so that the average Nigerian could have access to decent accommodation.
“The private estate developers are not doing enough to solve a class problem in the FCT where only the wealthy can own and live in descent houses.
“The estate market would soon crash in the estate market, especially in the FCT, because the income of most Nigerians is not enough to enable them to purchase these houses,’’ he said.
The Head of Aesthetics and Amenities, Department of Development Control of the FCTA, Mr Dominic Odenigbo, said the government would soon give directives to make leaving housing estates unoccupied for more than six months an offence in the FCT.
“Part of our condition for granting building approval is that construction should begin within six months of such approval and that it should be completed two years after.
“However, we have observed that many of the houses in the city, with a large number of them in mass housing estates; have not been occupied many years after construction, which is not acceptable.
“To stop this trend, we plan to include a clause in the approval that would compel builders to rent out such houses not later than six months after completion,’’ he said.
The Marketing Executive, Netconctruct, Mr Benjamin Onuaku, an estate developer in Abuja, insisted that the housing deficit had persisted because developers had no access to affordable lands. He said cumbersome mortgage loan processes had not been favourable to workers who were interested in buying houses.
“The experience has been that when civil servants indicate interest to buy houses, the long period it takes to secure mortgage loans denies them the opportunity of buying such houses.
“When people who have available cash come to buy the same houses, they are sold to them immediately because the developers have to dispose of the houses,’’ he said.
According to him, a clause in the mortgage loan process such as the equity contributions, was a major obstacle for low income earners in accessing funds.
He, therefore, urged the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria to ease the processes of securing mortgage loans by the beneficiaries of the National Housing Fund. He also observed that some houses in the FCT were locked by buyers who might not be ready to occupy them immediately.
“House owners put high price tags on their houses because of the initial cost of purchase and high cost of building materials.
“The houses are not occupied because the owners cannot rent them out at a loss,’’ he said.
Howerver, Mr Ahmed Usman, the spokesman for Global Assets Company Ltd, an estate developer, solicited greater collaboration between real estate developers and appropriate authorities in housing sector.
“If lands can be allocated directly to developers by the relevant authorities, the cost of houses will be reduced to enable both the high income and low income earners to buy them,’’ he said.
While reacting to high cost of housing in the FCT, the minister of FCT Sen. Bala Muhammed during the recent inauguration of a 49-luxury apartment in Apo-Dutse Housing Estate, Abuja, said that: “From statistics, the housing deficit in Nigeria is about 17 million and 10 per cent of it is in the FCT.’’
He said stakeholders in the housing sector refrain from the attitude of encouraging developers to construct houses and lock them up until buyers offer them the exorbitant amount of money they require for rents or sales of such houses.
The minister insisted that if the owners of such houses were a bit flexible with their terms, the high cost of rent would have been reduced in Abuja.