PROP­ERTY Can C’River re­ally do so­cial hous­ing?

Daily Trust - - PROPERTY - From Eyo Charles, Cal­abar

Cross River State House of As­sem­bly re­cently passed the ex­ec­u­tive bill on so­cial hous­ing scheme spon­sored by the state Gover­nor, Pro­fes­sor Bene­dict Ayade into law. Can this truly trans­late to avail­abil­ity of so­cial hous­ing?

Be­cause of his pas­sion for pro­vi­sion of hous­ing to the less priv­i­leged in the state which he first mooted whilst rep­re­sent­ing the Cross River north in the Sen­ate, Gov Ayade re­cently as­sented to a bill for so­cial hous­ing.

The law es­tab­lishes Cross River State So­cial Hous­ing Scheme. It is state law no. 12 (2015). By this law, a cor­po­rate body un­der per­pet­ual suc­ces­sion act, called Cross River State So­cial Hous­ing Scheme Agency is to be floated.

This law will now en­cour­age low in­come earn­ers who are on level 8 or be­low or those earn­ing N70,000 per month to own or have ac­cess to what it calls de­cent and safe hous­ing at af­ford­able cost. It cov­ers the low in­come group in the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors.

The law also gives pri­or­ity to hous­ing pro­grammes de­signed to ben­e­fit the poor.

It will, amongst oth­ers, en­sure that the pro­vi­sion of hous­ing units are based on re­al­is­tic stan­dards which the house own­ers can af­ford.

The law em­pow­ers state agen­cies to cre­ate and strengthen the in­sti­tu­tional frame­work to fa­cil­i­tate ef­fec­tive hous­ing de­liv­ery as well as de­velop and pro­mote the use of cer­ti­fied lo­cally pro­duced build­ing ma­te­ri­als.

But it ap­pears gov­ern­ment has not cre­ated much aware­ness about this law so that those to ben­e­fit be­gin to tap into its ben­e­fits.

Even crit­i­cal stake­hold­ers in­clud­ing town plan­ners, es­tate agents, sur­veys and so on ap­pear not have known much about it.

An ex­pert hous­ing, im­me­di­ate past com­mis­sioner for lands and hous­ing in the state, Sur­veyor Ral­phael Uche, ap­peared not

on have known the new law. “I’ve just heard about that from you. I can’t re­ally com­ment on it now un­til I study it,” he said.

Cal­abar branch man­ager of a pri­vate es­tate de­vel­op­ing firm, Osas and Oseji Es­tate Sur­vey­ors, Mr T. Ola­jide could not speak on the hous­ing law, hav­ing not heard about.

A ju­nior civil ser­vant in the gover­nor’s of­fice who pleaded not to be men­tioned said they were yet to be briefed re­gard­ing the law.

He how­ever asked what would hap­pen to the Civil Ser­vants Hous­ing Scheme where they bought low cost houses in Ak­pabuyo lo­cal gov­ern­ment area of the state where heavy de­duc­tions are still be­ing made from their salaries.

This law will now en­er­gise the gover­nor to vig­or­ously pur­sue his con­trac­tual talks with Ir­ish prop­erty de­vel­op­ers who are to build 5,000 houses across the 18 lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas of the state dur­ing his ten­ure.

Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial sources, this is his own way of sooth­ing the pains of the poor, as well as open­ing up new ur­ban cen­tres in the three sen­a­to­rial dis­tricts.

It is said that a pri­vate firm, Gal­way Com­pany is hold­ing talks with gov­ern­ment to es­tab­lish a fac­tory which will build mod­u­lar homes.

Daily Trust find­ings in­di­cate that some of the houses are be­ing pro­posed for a new city dubbed Calas Ve­gas.

The mod­u­lar homes will be de­signed off-site and erected in less than a week ac­cord­ing to Mr Des­mond Cul­li­nane, chair­man of Af­ford­able Build­ing Con­cepts In­ter­na­tional who was part of the dis­cus­sions with Gov Ayade.

He how­ever stated that agree­ment has not been reached with gov­ern­ment to en­able them be­gin de­ploy­ment of their pre­fab works.

“Noth­ing has been con­cluded at this stage. But they came to see what we had to of­fer and they liked it. It will be a ma­jor in­vest­ment, but noth­ing is de­cided yet,” he said.

The Ir­ish prop­erty de­vel­oper and busi­ness­man has since vis­ited the state to as­sess the pos­si­ble sites where the mod­u­lar homes would be sited. His visit was a fol­low up to ear­lier ones made by the gover­nor to at­tract in­vestors from Ire­land.

Speak­ing on the So­cial Hous­ing Law, Ayade said it will make the vul­ner­a­ble to have a right to own houses with­out much has­sle, ex­press­ing joy that the law holds emo­tional sig­nif­i­cance to him.

“The most emo­tional bill to me is the So­cial Hous­ing Law which seeks to pro­vide hous­ing for the poor­est of the poor in the state. Var­i­ous re­searches have linked cor­rup­tion in civil ser­vice to hous­ing. It has also been proved that given the salary of av­er­age civil ser­vants, if they don’t orig­i­nate memos that give them ex­tra money, if they don’t com­prise, there is no civil ser­vant in Nige­ria that will be able to build a house. So by virtue of our salary struc­ture, you have al­ready cre­ated a cat­a­lyst for cor­rup­tion to thrive.

“There is no amount of value you can give to mankind that will be enough if he is de­hu­man­ized by lack of shel­ter.

“The in­vestors will come with their tech­nol­ogy and ex­per­tise and set up a fac­tory where low cost hous­ing will be de­signed off site and the houses set up in less than three days,” the gover­nor ex­plained.

He said the houses will be in three cat­e­gories to cater for the needs and taste of the peo­ple who will key into the am­bi­tion of the gov­ern­ment to cre­ate a new city in each of the lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas.

Ayade dis­closed that they will be mind­ful of the nat­u­ral en­dow­ment of the en­vi­ron­ment where the houses will be lo­cated.

Many de­vel­op­ers build for the high-end

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