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Officials worry about unoccupied houses in Abuja

Real Estate experts have canvassed the need for government to put in place policy that would compel developers to rent out completed but unoccupied estates in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. Unoccupied estates have become a trending issue mostly across the FCT in recent times with some of the buildings constituting social menace and hideout for criminalities in certain locations. The residential houses are located in, Apo, Kabusa, Garki, Maitama, Asokoro, Wuse, Gudu, Sunny Vale, Mpape, Bwari, Dei-Dei, Utako, Central District Area, Kubwa, airport road and Kure. Other areas include Kuduru, Orozo, Karishi, Kubwa II, Lugbe, Mararaba, Zuba, Suleja in Niger State; Kado, Jahi and Guzape, behind Abacha Barracks in Kaduna road. The investigation by The Guardian revealed that politicians, businessmen, and women, as well as top civil servants, own some of these unoccupied estates and structures while some developers on their part, didn’t do enough homework before investing in a certain part of the city. In some of the projects, it was learned that one and two-bedroom apartments at Centenary Estate, for example, goes for N100 million outright sales, while in some they are sold for N15 and N20 million. Civil servants who form the majority of the occupants of Abuja can’t afford to buy such houses. It was also gathered that since 1976 when the Federal Housing Authority, (FHA), was established and in the past nine years, the agency has no recorded low budgetary allocation, which hinders the development of more houses for the residents and Nigerians. Findings revealed that it has developed a little over 40,000 housing units in 77 estates nationwide, while four of those estates situated in Odukpani, North Bank in Benue State, Ogun and Kaduna states have not been occupied. Experts told The Guardian that Nigeria might not meet up with the Sustainable Development Goals,(SDGs) in providing affordable houses for her citizenry if the situation persists amid the citizens’ huge demand for housing. The Deputy Director, Estate in Federal Capital Development Administration, Yemi Yemitan explained that housing deficit has come to stay, because of the affordability of the available properties in the real estate market. According to her, transform from the present experience, the government’s policy on housing should be a social service, and not economic gain, or profit-making.“Estates are littered in all nooks and crannies of Abuja, and its environs, not for low-income earners. Some developers don’t want people to know their assets. That is why they are unoccupied.” An official of the urban and regional planning unit in the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing said: “Factors that contribute to unoccupied estates, or houses in the city center, include court cases, high rental, non-payment of collateral from banks. Others are, forfeited buildings and lack of infrastructure.” Contributing, the Director, Public Building in the ministry, Adinoh Uwodi said that housing deficit in the country affects mostly the low-income earners, adding that the government gives out land to developers only to build for the high class of people in the society. “They cannot get prime land to build for common citizens. No organization can claim ownership of the data that Nigeria has 22 million housing deficit. We do not know to project into the future. The high cost of accommodation causes low-income earners to seek alternatives in the outskirts of Abuja. The government needs to develop the economy of rural areas, by establishing industries in those locations’’, he said.

source: Cornelius Essen

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