Lagos, as a major economic hub and commercial nerve center of Nigeria and West-Africa, attracts a lot of people from various parts of the world. Apart from the usual rural-urban drift, migration from different neighboring nations also accounts for the state’s ever swelling demography.
Providing adequate accommodation for its ever growing population has always been a key challenge for successive governments in Lagos. However, in line with his campaign promises, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has made a huge impact in the state’s housing sector.
The state’s housing policy under his administration targets both short and long term gains. The short term goals are to quickly complete and deliver on-going schemes embarked upon by previous administrations, strengthen private-public collaboration for increased housing supply and promote easy access to homes through convenient mortgage plans. Cheerfully, both strategies have yielded great gains.
In the past four years, the Sanwo-Olu-led government has accelerated housing development in the state by deliberately increasing the available housing stock. In order to consolidate on the gains of the past, housing projects inherited from past administrations were completed and commissioned.
Suffice to say that through this strategy, unwarranted wastage, which would have resulted from continued abandonment of such housing projects, was curtailed. In this category, there were 15 budgetary allocation housing schemes, comprising over 5000 home units at various locations in the state at different levels of completion.
Some of the scheme sites are Igando, Igbogbo, Ibeshe, Odo Onosa/Ayandelu, Agbowa, Sangotedo, Egan-Igando, LASU main Campus, Iba, Ajara, and Epe to mention a few. It gladdens the heart to note that over 95% of these schemes are completed now. They are now livable cities with enviable community life.
Sanwo-Olu also activated the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) schemes, which were already in existence. There were over 30 private investors who were in joint partnership with the state in developing some housing schemes. The involvement of the private sector in increasing the state’s housing stock is crucial.
It helps in reducing direct governmental expenditure, thereby releasing more funds for bridging other infrastructural gaps. Some of such projects are located at Idale in Badagry, Lekki, Iponri, Ibeshe, Owutu, Ijora, Ipaja and Ajegunle.
Over 70% of these schemes have been completed and delivered, while more have also been initiated at Abraham Adesanya Estate, Ajah. New collaborations were also brokered with viable partners, particularly those with innovative building technology.
Through the various efforts of the Sanwo-Olu administration, 19 housing schemes have been completed. These include Lateef Kayode Jakande Estate in Igando, Courtland Luxury Villa, Igbokushu and Lekki Apartments (both through the Lagos State Development and Property Corporation) and Prince Abiodun Ogunleye Housing Estate, Igbogbo.
Others are Lagos State Affordable Public Housing Scheme Idale-Badagry, Babatunde Raji Fashola Estate, Iponri and LagosHOMS Lekki Phase 2 Estate in Eti-Osa Local Government Area. Also in the list are LagosHOMS Sangotedo Phase1 in Eti-Osa East LCDA, LagosHOMS Odo-Onosa /Ayandelu in Ikosi-Ejinrin LCDA, Lagos State Resettlement Centre, Agbowa and Babatunde Olushola Benson Housing Estate, Ibeshe.
Others in the wing are Ndubuisi Kanu Estate, Gbagada, and LagosHOMS Egan-Igando (Phase 1). Equally, more schemes in Sangotedo Phase II, LASU, Iba, Epe Housing Scheme Itamarun- Epe and LagosHOMS Ajara- Badagry are to be added in due course.
Others that are in progress under Joint Venture Scheme include Ilubirin Foreshore Housing Scheme, Ilubirin, Lagos State Housing Scheme, Ijora-Badia, Lagos State Public Housing Scheme, Ilamoye in Oshodi-Isolo LGA, Abraham Adesanya Housing Estate, Eti-Osa LGA. (Parcel A, B, C & D). Other Joint Venture Schemes by the LSDPC include Akanimodo, Iconic Towers Sinari Daranijo, Victoria Island, Channel Point Apartments at Sinari Daranijo, Victoria Island, The Avenue Ogudu Scheme II., Court LSDPC Ogudu Scheme II, and Ivy Suite Ilupeju Gardens at Esther Osiyemi Street Ilupeju, Sura Mogaji Terraces, Ilupeju, Keffi Suites Keffi, Ikoyi, and Love Garden Apartments, Olorogun/Allen Way, Ilupeju.
The question to ask at this point is: what is next? Moving forward, the government will continue to respond intentionally to the state’s massive housing challenge, particularly among the low income earners.Nothing short of mass housing will solve the problem.
Now, the focus must be on building homes in thousands. That means all efforts must be geared towards mass production of homes involving multilevel or vertical homes that are well built and safe. It is important to stress that more emphasis is to be placed on safety. We have in the pipeline, the proposed Imota Workers City, which will provide 3456 homes with convenient mortgage arrangements.
Secondly, the homes to be built must be affordable for low wage earners to access. This means interest rates for funds must be significantly lower, that is single digit, for both the government and private investors. Thirdly, the government may now be more actively involved in the rental system. Private sector investors must also look into the diverse long term gains in rental schemes as opposed to outright sales. Why the rental system?
Presently, this system accounts for the home needs of 80.7% of Lagosians. Lastly, our old and declining estates across the state must be regenerated, thus achieving a dual goal of upgrading the facilities and also bringing more people on the home ownership ladder. We also suggest an interdisciplinary approach to the issue of housing development, involving all professionals in the sector. The way forward is to have a forum to discuss Lagos Affordable Housing Document with experts drawn from within and outside Government circle. This will ensure a robust all-inclusive road map.
The touch points will include urgent need for mass housing in Lagos, impact of mortgage and foreclosure laws on housing development and safety standards, especially as they pertain to multilevel buildings in a littoral state such as Lagos. Finally, we all need to advocate for the amendment of existing Mortgage and Property Law Cap M5 Law of Lagos State 2015. The key areas that are being considered for amendment include speedy perfection of mortgage titles, strata titles, sale by auction and remedy for wrongful sale.
In order to make mortgage more attractive, provision for foreclosure is also made as an alternative resolution for conflict between mortgagee and mortgagor in case of continued default. We will have to kick start this strategic amendment again with the incoming 10th Assembly. This amendment, if achieved, will help to attract more investments to the housing sector.
Definitely, the government will also intensify its usual infrastructural upgrade in terms of a good intermodal transportation network in sub urban areas with a focus on opening up more locations for building additional homes for Lagosians. With special reference to the state’s diversity, closer attention must also be placed on equity and inclusion, especially for the underserved and People Living with Disabilities.
In promoting resilience, more will be done in preparing safe accommodation for victims of disasters and crises in order to make the state a safe haven for all. Against this background, a solid structure is being built for massive housing development in the state. The groundwork is also being strengthened by new institutional reforms in the sector. This is to ensure that the Greater Lagos envisioned is fully achieved through a robust all-inclusive housing policy.
Akinderu-Fatai is Honourable Commissioner for Housing, Lagos State