The real estate sector in Edo State, like every other sector of the economy, is facing challenges.
Although the state government was said to have reduced the burden and stress of getting Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) by developers, players in the sector say the challenges are still enormous.
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Some developers who spoke to our correspondent identified community involvement in land acquisition, land tenure system, high interest loans and high cost of building materials as the major challenges.
A developer, Dirisu Fatai, said one of the major challenges they are facing in the state is land availability.
Fatai, owner of Faakfy Nigeria Limited, said the land tenure system in the state was such that even if one gets it from the state government, because of the situation of the economy, one might not be able to pay compensation to the traditional owner of the land.
He explained that, “Even when you pay the compensation, you may pay to the wrong group or wrong person.
“It is a big problem in the state because when you buy land, one group will tell you that they have bush inspectors and you must pay them money. Another group will come up as bush security and will demand for payment for securing the bush, and at the end of the day you may end up not meeting target time for your project.
For instance, when you purchase land, you may have a target period that by the time you put in N9m to N10m and above, you will be looking at up to five per cent gain when the building is completed, but you will end up not getting what you invested because of the compensation paid to community members.”
Fatai added that another major challenge is finance, because, “Many people don’t have money to actually go into the real estate sector, and the banks are not helpful with their three-digit or 25 per cent interest loans; which is not good for any developer because we do business to make profit.”
– Challenges –
On the encumbrance usually faced from government officials, Fatai said the government had made getting the C of O easy for developers, adding that, “Once the government finds out the plot is genuine, you get the C of O with ease; and I think Edo has the best platform in this regard.”
Another developer, Richard Orobosa, noted that, “When you are developing any structure, the community will not let you do it, and by the time you are able to settle them, you may not be able to achieve what you set out to do.
“Another problem is how to identify a genuine plot, because many people are out to defraud, and once it is genuine, you can even leave it for a certain period, even if you are not developing, one can still make good money.”
An estate agent, Stephen Achebe, owner of Great Godswill and Gees Enterprise, said the major challenge in real estate “now” is high cost of cement which had moved from between N1,800 and N2,000 to N4,000 and above for 50kg.
Achebe explained that the development had forced some developers to stop work on their sites pending when the price would come down.
According to him, bricklayers are also posing a challenge as most of them want to cut corners without doing good work.
– Restructuring –
Meanwhile, the Executive Chairman of Edo Property Development Agency (EPDA), Isoken Omo, said a lot of restructuring had happened within the real estate sector in the state to make it conducive for business.
Omo said, “We have set up the Edo Geographical Information System (GIS) which deals with all land matters and titling; and getting a land title is very easy and no longer the way it used to be. Mr Governor signs C of O every time.
“The development has made developers to be comfortable to be engaged in development in Edo knowing that the title that they will eventually get is genuine, root title will be good and when that root title is good, whatever emanates from it will also be good.
“The Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development has also been reorganised so that building plan approval will be easier. Restructuring is going on to implement the city’s master plan so that there will be order and cohesion.”
On community issues, she said the government had promulgated laws proscribing community development associations, noting that things that developers used to experience in the past when youths would come and disturb while work was ongoing had been reduced; if not totally eradicated.
She added that, “It is now an offence for one to act in a manner that is contrary to what the state government stipulates as far as property development in the state is concerned.