By Kinsley Chikwendu & Jummai Abu,
Viewpoint Housing Media, visited some satellite towns in the capital city of the FCT, to get the views of the public on what the state of the infrastructural facilities is within their environment and how they are coping with social distancing in the Covid-19 pandemic period since they live in most densely populated areas.
It was gathered that if the Federal Government can create a more practicable mortgage system for low income earners such as the civil servants, self-employed and young graduates that are on minimum wage, it will go a long way to alleviate their sufferings.
Tommy Iyerenke, a resident of Karu, Abuja and an indigene of Akwa Ibom State, stated that, housing affordability has not changed from what it was previously. I live in the Federal Housing Estate in Karu. For instance, the rent we use to pay in the past is not different from what we are paying now, but with the situation we are in today, the lockdown and the economic downturn has actually made it difficult for us to pay our rent with ease.
When asked about the situation of his environment, he added that the environment is a bit okay but the buildings are dilapidated. You know it’s a Federal Housing, so most of the buildings here were built some years ago. The owners of these buildings, who are mostly civil servants find it difficult to renovate them. The buildings are already looking old and dilapidated.
On Social Distancing as a result of Covid-19, Iyerenke said that, it just dawned on me that I am not with my nose mask while talking though, I will get one on my way to the office. You know with Covid-19, what really happened is that a lot of people are still unmindful about the virus which has become a reality. I can say that more than 50 percent of Nigerians does not believe that Covid-19 exists.
They did not adhere to the social distancing rules because of their belief. Majority of them did not comply with COVID-19 guidelines set by the NCDC, however, we had some good Nigerians that did follow the guidelines.
Speaking to Nnenna Nwajideobi, a resident of Mararaba, Nasarawa State, on the Housing situation in her area, said theplace is a low class environment, the 80% houses there are affordable for the low income earners/low class people. You can get any price of house there, it depends on the location, it’s grade by grade.
The place where I stay is very calm and the environment is conducive. I live at Old Customs Quarters; the quarter is okay for me. Everyone has their own apartment/flat; we do not make use of public toilets.
On Infrastructural amenities in the area, there are no good roads in the area at all. Access road to our house is the main problem. During rainy seasons, the roads are not really good, dirt packed on the road is very pathetic. Many persons pack dirt and dump at the middle of roads and during the rainy seasons, the rain packs and flows this dirt on the roads into the drainage systems and that leads to blockage of the drainages. It is always difficult for water to flow through the drainage systems, everywhere is always messy.
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ViewPoint Media asked her on roles the government can take in order to solve these problems; she stated that,the government should focus on repairing the roads and garbage packing systems. They should create good drainage systems, some of the road doesn’t have drainage. For instance, the road opposite Abacha Road area called ‘Baba Street’ does not has drainage system at all. The residence of the area usually dumps their refuse on the road and mess up the whole place; Government needs to come to our aid.
On the topic of Social Distancing during the lockdown were people obeying the rules and regulations of the Covid-19 pandemic?
At Mararaba market, people were not really adhering to COVID-19 rules and regulations, most shops did not have running water and soap for handwashing and nothing like social distancing. Many were just working as if there is nothing like COVID-19 pandemics. As for me, I always use my facemask regularly.
Peter Jonah a resident of Nyanya, Abuja, spoke about the housing situation of his environment, ‘’There is nothing like development in my area, there are lots of bad roads and unstable power supply, lack of water and even security is a big problem for us. Besides, there are no jobs for us to engage in. We have been struggling to survive these situations. The government is not really doing much for us to address these problems; they need to do something urgently to help us. They seriously need to ensure that we are all okay in this country because, the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer every day. The gap is getting wider’’ he stated.
On infrastructural facilities, Emmanuel Daudu, a resident of Goza, Airport road stated that the drainage systems within the area are not in a good condition. Apart from electricity, every other thing is being provided by the individuals living within the area. Which means, we are the ones providing infrastructural facilities for the areas. This is what government is supposed to do for us.
Chinwe Asomwa Nwachukwu, a resident of Federal Housing, Lugbe spoke on the housing condition in her area;According to her, the area does not have access to water and good roads. Due to lack of good drainage system, there are cases of flooding in some areas within the Federal Housing Lugbe.
On the roles that the government should play,I think the government should ensure that the FHA Lugbe roads are properly constructed with good drainage system; they should provide a good refuse disposal system for us because, you can see refuse littered around the roads which is not good for our wellbeing and health.
On the existence of Covid-19 and social distancing with the FHA Lugbe; Given that Federal Housing is a satellite town within the FCT, you see that during the lockdown, most people did not observe the lockdown measures put in place by the Federal Government to curtail the spread of the virus. So, many people were busy doing their normal business. Many people believe that it’s a scam, but we know that it is real. Even as at today some Nigerians still believe that COVID-19 is a scam.
On the provision of mortgage available for the intended homeowners; The Federal Government has to create a practicable mortgage system for the Civil Servants and other citizen that are on minimum wage, and most especially the low income earners. I think that will go a long way to alleviate their sufferings and help them to have their own houses before their retirement. This will go a long way in curbing corruption in the Civil Service.
On the construction of 300,000 housing units by the federal government under the Economic Sustainability Plan
The policy can only be implemented if government at all level shows commitment and seriousness to its implementation. We have good policies in this country, but our problem is with the implementation of these policies. Therefore, if Government sees this project as a priority, I know it is achievable, but the important thing is that government at all levels must prioritize housing development in their programs.
They should consider those people who are low income earners and other National Housing Fund [NHF] contributors. They should build houses for them and also provide mortgages for them to acquire their houses. I am one of the NHF contributors; but the issue is that, while many Nigerians are paying their monthly NHF contribution; they are still paying rent. So, everyone should have access to the National Housing Fund (NHF) that they are contributing, so that they can own their own houses.