Bankole Taiwo, Abeokuta
A real estate developer and Managing Director of Aerofield Homes Limited, Mr Akintunde Armstrong ‘Tope has said that with collaborative efforts with abundant certified developers and builders in the country, goverment at all levels could easily help to overcome about 20 million housing deficit in the nation.
Mr Akintunde Armstrong who also doubles as the Executive Director, Special Projects, Suru Group Limited, Lagos has also identified endemic corruption among government officials whose duty is to ensure standardisation of building projects as well as various sharp practices of the developers as factors responsible for increase in building collapse in the country.
He has therefore urged government to embrace private-public partnership in solving the bitter problem of housing and shelter among at least 20 millions Nigerians saying many developers across the country are willing to join forces with the goverment to provide decent place of abode for its citizens.
Akintunde made this submissions while speaking with our Correspondent over the rampant problem of building collapse as well as how Nigerian government could step up its game in overcoming acute shortage of housing for its citizens among others.
Commenting on how Nigeria could overcome its housing deficit to the tune of 20 millions people, Akintunde said that with very poor disposable income and skyrocketing prices of building materials, many Nigerians find it pretty difficult to have a decent home for themselves.
He said “to overcome this challenge, goverment must deliberately make it a policy to increase its support for private developers by way of reducing the prices of land, help eliminate the problem of land grabbers, granting of waivers on payment of Certificates of Occupancy, crashing the ever increasing cost of building materials as well as outright partnership with proven real estate companies to build estates and satellite towns for the people at an highly subsidized price”.
Akintunde explained that it is still possible for government to achieve Low Cost Housing in Nigerians as long as goverment will quit rhetorics and be committed to a well laid out, conscientious and concerted efforts tailored towards replicating low cost housing of the early 80s.
He disclosed that “the plans of governments desirous of low cost housing project must put into consideration the activities and the contributions of professionals and artisans in building, as well as manufacturers, dealers of building materials. The commitment of these cluster of class of people with committed and selfless government officials or representatives will help to attain this lofty goal
“It must however be taken into consideration that no matter how genuine the intention is or strong the drive may be, if the prices of building materials are not controlled or managed, the idea will never come to fruition. It will be just like someone winking in the dark, because, if the prices of building materials are exorbitant, the possibility of building low cost housing might be frustrated”.
He said “as an investor in real estate of over a decade experience, I must confess and state it bluntly that low income earners find it so difficult to own a home of their own with ever increasing cost of living, cost of building materials among others.
“The only way this class of people could own homes is may be by cooperative arrangements and by extension through governments supports in the form of mortgage or some form of allocations in which the costs are deducted from their salaries. So, government must explore all options to adequately sheltered its”.
The Real Estate expert disclosed that “the blame on incessant building collapse should be put at the door steps of government officials who will rather look the other way than enforcing standards because their palms have been greased. There had been reported cases of building approval done in the offices without the officials charged with such responsibility visiting the construction sites relying solely on the information supplied by the builders.
“The developers too are also not helping matters with their selfishness and sharp practices. Some will want to use materials meant for one building for two, there is also problem of reports of many potential home owners employing quacks who only work on trial and errors instead of professional and seasoned builders with relevant years of experience.As long as standards are compromised and supervising authority are lackadaisical, collapse building experience will continue”.
Speaking on some of the challenges confronting operators of real estate in the country, Akintunde, an Agronomy graduate of Federal University of Agriculture (FUNAAB) Abeokuta before veering into real estate, highlighted lack of government support, poor infrastructure and access to capital as part of major challenges confronting this sector of the economy.
The former student activist said “Most restricting is the inadequacy of funds and lack of access to capital. Indeed, most of the other problems could easily be resolved with sufficient finance. Our financial institutions typically wait for entrepreneurs to become successful before they take any serious interest in their businesses, it doesn’t matter how creative and innovative they are, these entrepreneurs often cannot meet the strict credit risk acceptance criteria of these banks”.