PROPERTY Can C’River really do social housing?
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