Some of the various housing schemes initiated by the federal government across the country are facing challenges, an investigation by the Daily Trust revealed. In this first part of a series, our correspondents in Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Kwara and Benue states found out that the projects are contending with many issues. Some people interviewed said it would take a serious commitment on the side of the government to solve Nigeria’s housing deficit.
As part of efforts to bridge the country’s housing deficit, the federal government has come up with various mass housing schemes for low-income earners across the country.
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For instance, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration had in June 2020 approved N2.3 trillion Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) prepared by the Osinbajo-led Economic Sustainability Committee.
A component of the plan is the National Housing Programme which the CBN made an initial N200 billion for the construction of the social housing scheme for low-income earners.
The federal government stated that the plan was targeted to provide 300,000 low-income houses, thereby creating 1.8 million jobs in the process with each house to cost N2m.
Previous administrations have also rolled out various schemes to bridge the housing deficit in the country.
However, checks by our reporters showed that while the scheme has taken off in some states, othe projects are moving at a slow pace in others.
An article in the December 2019 Economic and Financial review publication of the Central Bank of Nigeria titled: ‘Addressing Housing Deficit in Nigeria: Issues, Challenges and Prospects’, x-rayed housing deficits across six African countries from 2016-2019 and concluded that Nigeria had the highest with 18-22 million housing unit deficit as at 2019.
In Kaduna, it’s substandard work, unoccupied houses
In March 2015, the Federal Government, under the administration of Dr Goodluck Jonathan, commissioned a 200-unit housing estate in Millennium City, Kaduna, as part of efforts to bridge the country’s housing deficit. The housing units which were fully funded by the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) were among the first batch of Federal Government Mass Housing schemes across the country.
The Kaduna State Government had then provided 20 hectares of land for the project at no cost. It also constructed all access roads to the estate to ensure that the project was not abandoned halfway.
Six years after its commissioning and subsequent allocation to owners, the estate known as Ministerial Housing Estate is in a sorry state due to poor and inadequate foundation and general substandard work during construction.
Our correspondent who visited the estate observed large cracks, dampness and mould on the walls of the houses. Also, due to bad roads and lack of drainages in the estate, occupants have been facing flooding menace.
Following the poor conditions of the houses, wealthy landlords had demolished their houses and replaced them with better and standard buildings of their tastes.
Meanwhile, in 2016, the National Housing Programme kicked off at Rigachikun in Igabi Local Government Area of the state and is being funded by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, according to the project signpost. The project, which is in the first phase, is about 80 per cent complete with eight houses still under construction, while the second phase would be constructed in Zaria and Kafanchan, both in Kaduna State.
Our correspondent gathered that there are 80 houses comprising four units of one-bedroom, 28 units of three bedrooms and 24 units of two bedrooms. Other facilities like electrification, water facility, road construction among others are on the verge of completion.
When contacted, the Federal Controller, Housing Sector of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing in Kaduna, Architect Aisha Yushau, could not give any insightful information on the estate in Millennium City as she claimed not to be the controller at that time.
She, however, said that the estate in Rigachikun was almost complete, but eight houses were yet to be completed. She added that the processes of acquiring the houses were underway. As for the houses that were expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2019, A’isha assured that they would soon be completed.
On the quality of the project, she noted; “The houses were built on a solid foundation. If not for the two contractors that did not move to site on time, the project would have been 100 per cent complete by now.” She added that phase two of the project in Rigachikun comprising 44 houses was under construction and urged Nigerians to go on the website when it was launched to access the houses as everyone was entitled to the property.
COVID-19 delays Kwara’s project
In Kwara State, Daily Trust’s checks showed that two national housing schemes being embarked upon by the Federal Government are at different stages of completion which started in 2017 and 2019. Although none has been abandoned, work in the first phase of the project located at Aliara/Aremu/Osin area in Ilorin has progressed appreciably more than the second phase located in Asa Local Government Area of the state.
Our reporter’s visit to Phase I of the project confirmed that while many of the structures have been completed, others were ongoing in other parts. Also, some segments of the road are yet to be completed. A resident, Saliu, confirmed the availability of electricity and water. He added that boreholes had been sunk and there is police presence especially at night.
The Federal Controller of Housing in Kwara State, Architect Sonibare Ibikunle, attributed the delay of work at Phase II of the project to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to him, phase I has 19 contractors at the site constructing 76 housing units with each of them handling four units of mixed development. The structures, he said, consist of four units of one-bedroom semi-detached bungalows already completed and handed over as well as 48 units of semi-detached 2-bedroom bungalows out of which 32 have been completed with 16 units ongoing. He said the last is the 3-bedroom house of 24 units with 12 units completed and handed over.
As for phase II, the federal controller said that the project, with a total of 88 units of houses that comprise one-bedroom semi-detached bungalows of 20 units (10 blocks) were handed over around February 2020, but affected by the COVID-19 lockdown.
“Four units have been completed and handed over. The rest are at different stages of completion. There are also 40 units of 2 bedrooms (20 blocks) out of which 10 units have been completed and handed over to the ministry. The rest are at different stages of completion,” he said.
He added that for the three bedrooms, “we have 32 units and work ongoing. The artwork has been completed for the road network within. But due to our experience during the first phase that saw contractors mixing concrete on the completed road, we had to put the final asphalting on hold. Drainages and other things are already in place and the contractor had to move out the two transformers he supplied because of security issues. Reticulation has also gone far,” he added.
Ibikunle said that Kwara State Government had done well in the allocation of lands for the scheme. He added that increase the prices of some building materials fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic had been a challenge.
“Even when the pandemic lockdown was lifted, prices jumped. The increase in the price of PMS also contributed, including labour charges. But I think price review is being made at the headquarters now in consideration of new awards,” he said.
Ibikunle said the houses were of quality standard, adding that phase three would soon commence as they await the state government to allocate land.
Mass housing scheme yet to take off in Benue
In Benue State, the Federal Government Mass Housing project is yet to commence despite the availability of land for the scheme at Adeke community along with the new layout, behind Mobile Barracks Road in Makurdi.
The Commissioner for Housing and Urban Development, Chief Dennis Ekpe Ogbu, said that the state government had put in place all the necessary measures to commence the construction of over 10,000 housing units for residents in the state.
Ogbu said it was earlier thought that the COVID-19 lockdown would impede the ground-breaking ceremony of the project for which the state government provided 10 hectares of unoccupied land to the Federal Housing Authority (FHA).
According to him, the first phase of the project was for 5,000 units, but there hadn’t been any further explanation on why the construction was yet to begin.
The commissioner disclosed that the state government had also entered into a partnership with Habitat for Africa Initiative based in Abuja to build another 5,000 low-cost houses for Benue people on a 19 hectares piece of land.
“The proposal is yet to receive any tangible attention because we try to key into the family home funds programme through Habitat for Africa Initiative and Federal Housing Authority, but both are still at the planning stage. That is the fact,” he said.
“On the part of the state, we have already allocated the required hectares of land requested by the state government. We are expecting further action after that stage. But we are still looking forward to seeing them mobilized to the site.
He said that at one instance, the state government gave 10 hectares of land to the Federal Housing Authority and another 19 hectares to Habitat for Africa Initiative.
“We have done what is expected of the state government. The sites are located at the new layout behind Mobile Barracks on your way to Naka. The challenge lies with them to mobilise to sites,” Ogbu noted.
Meanwhile, all efforts by our correspondent to clarify the challenges preventing the ministry from commencing work at the site provided by the state government were to no avail.
Dilapidation in Kano, Katsina, Jigawa
The Federal Government housing estates in Kano, Katsina and Jigawa states have a couple of things in common. Most of the houses have been completed but unoccupied. Consequently, some parts of the facilities have started dilapidating.
In Kano State, there are two sites under the federal government mass housing programme – Jaba in Fagge Local Government Area and Dawanau in Dawakin Tofa Local Government Area.
However, a visit to the sites revealed that at the Dawanau site, work hasn’t commenced. But at Jaba Phase I site, most of the houses have been completed, while work at Phase II is still ongoing.
Sources at the Kano State office of the Federal Ministry of Housing told Daily Trust that in the first phase, there are 84 housing units of one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom bungalows, while the second phase has 60 housing units.
It was reliably gathered that work started at the site in 2017, while the contracts were awarded in 2016 and started in phases. The first phase of the Jaba Housing Estate was mostly completed in 2019, but the houses are not yet given out.
A visit to the site revealed that some of the completed houses have begun to show signs of rot and dilapidation because they are not allocated for habitation despite completion. Though there are indications that some of the houses have already undergone some repairs.
The federal housing estate in Jaba alongside another major federal government project, the free trade zone, is believed to have transformed the fortune of the area and made it more accessible to the inhabitants.
A resident, Mr Michael Ebere, said that the government’s choice of the area had been the best decision ever made by the government as it increased the security of the area.
He said that before the government’s decision, only a certain class of people could afford a house in Jaba Quarters.
Another resident, Mr Monday Idah said that it was disheartening to see some of the completed unoccupied houses becoming dilapidated without being allocated for habitation after completion.
He called on authorities concerned to speed up the occupation processes to save taxpayers’ money used in erecting the structures.
Meanwhile, reliable sources from the office of the state ministry of works revealed that the reason for not allocating the houses was because of the ongoing process on the mode of acquisition and other bureaucratic processes.
The sources also revealed that although the ministry was shown the land to be developed at the Dawanau site, all necessary documents had not been handed over to the ministry by the state government.
In Katsina, the project has reached an advanced stage, as the first phase of 74 units of duplexes has been completed, though a recent windstorm that affected parts of the state also took its toll on some of the roofs at the estate.
Also, work at the second phase has reached an advanced stage as substantial parts have been completed, while other parts are at various stages of completion.
A staff of the Ministry of Works and Housing, who preferred anonymity disclosed that the first phase of the project which comprises 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom duplexes, started in 2017 and was completed in 2019.
He explained that there were two blocks consisting of four units of 1-bedroom flats, 12 blocks consisting of four units of 2-bedroom flats and 12 blocks consisting of two units of 3-bedroom duplexes, making a total of 74 houses for each phase.
Daily Trust observed a good road network within the estate, electrification and water supply.
Also, there is a clinic, a police station and a shopping centre, all of which are yet to be developed.
Another resident, Alhaji El-Zahradden Umar, said that while they were happy with the infrastructural development in the area which helped in making the value of the area appreciate, the problem of drainage, which had eroded many plots of land is also posing threats to some houses.
“This is a problem many of the residents cannot control. It has to be done by the government. We are therefore appealing to the government to come and look at the possibility of extending the drainages to where they are supposed to terminate,” he said.
“I must tell you that there was a time some residents of Gidan Kwakwa protested the damage that this problem has caused them. If it continues like that, I believe there will be a bigger problem,” he said.
One other issue raised by the residents of the neighbouring communities was that most of the contractors were from Kano, hence only a few Katsina indigenes were able to work on the site to gain a little.
In Jigawa State, work on the federal government mass housing programme appears to have been stalled despite 80% completion contrary to the claims and repeated official assurances of the early completion of the project.
When Daily Trust visited the site of the project located behind the Three Star Quarters on the outskirts of Dutse, the state capital, it was observed that while a good number of the houses have been completed, especially the first phase of the project, some of them have started dilapidating.
Some roofs of the buildings have been blown away by the wind, while some paintings of other houses have started peeling off.
Though work has also commenced and reached an appreciable stage in the second phase, the absence of the contractors to continue works has raised concerns among the residents of the area.
The project, Daily Trust gathered, is in two phases. The first phase was inaugurated in November 2016, to be completed in 2018 while the second phase was inaugurated in 2019 to be completed in 2021.
During an on-the-spot assessment visit to the project in March 2018, the North-West Zonal Director of the National Housing Programme (NHP) of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Mr Joseph Toluhi claimed that 80 per cent of the 78 Housing Units in Jigawa had been completed. This comprised one-bedroom flats; two-bedroom semi-detached bungalows and three-bedroom semi-detached bungalows being handled by 15 contractors.
A staffer of a state-owned three-star hotel, which shares the neighbourhood with the site of the project, expressed worries about the prolonged delay in the completion of the project.
Clement Adeyi, Faruq Shuaibu (Abuja) Maryam Ahmadu-Suka (Kaduna), Mumini AbdulKareem (Ilorin), Hope Abah Emmanuel (Makurdi), Ibrahim Musa Giginyu (Kano), Tijjani Ibrahim (Katsina) & Mohammed Abubakar (Dutse)