The relative peace witnessed in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, after over a decade of Boko Haram insurgency, has triggered a sudden boom in the property market.
The state capital has been witnessing a beehive of construction activities including the building of houses, schools, hospitals and vocational training centres by both the federal and state governments, development partners, non-governmental organisations, investors, corporate groups, civil servants, individuals including traders, artisans, among others.
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Many new layouts have sprung up in different locations of the metropolis, with new estates adorning the landscape.
This has created a value chain for stakeholders including building engineers, architects, masons, labourers, owners of block industries, traders of cement and other building materials, landlords, property agents as well as auctioneers making brick business in Maiduguri.
But residents have lamented the hike in rent and prices of houses, saying the boom in the market has failed to impact positively on the common man.
A building engineer in Maiduguri, Engr Modu Goni Isa, attributed the growing property business in Maiduguri to the body language of the incumbent governor of the state.
“The massive construction of houses and other public structures as well as reconstruction of both government and public structures triggered the silent transformation of Maiduguri city which encouraged the people of the state to invest in building houses. Many indigenes of Borno preferred to invest in the construction of houses due to the insecurity because we can build to sell and get profit or build and rent it out which you can recover your capital within some years because the market is flourishing in Maiduguri,” he said.
Alhaji Shariff Adam Gwano, popularly known as Mai Glass, is the chairman of auctioneers of landed properties in Borno State, and he said the boost in building construction in Borno betrays the devastating impact of insecurity on the people of the state.
He said the property sector has thrived now under the insurgency more than during peacetime.
“Our property market is flourishing even better than in the past. If you go to areas like 122 Estate, 159 Estate, Galtimari and other new layouts, you hardly count 10 houses that are not new buildings,” the chairman said.
He, however, lamented the rising cost of building materials, which he said has, in turn, affected the prices of houses and rent.
On his part, the Borno State Chairman of Property Agents and Landlord Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Lawan Baaji, popularly known as Lawan Guye, said the restoration of peace in Maiduguri was responsible for huge investment in the built environment in the state.
“During the peak of Boko Haram insurgency, many residents of Maiduguri, especially well-to-do individuals, relocated to other major cities in some northern states and Abuja but with Allah’s intervention and government’s efforts, peace has been restored.”
“Today, people from different states in the country are trooping into Maiduguri for their businesses without fear of attacks by insurgents. If you look at the eastern and western parts of Maiduguri, there has been rapid development. When you go to the southern and northern parts of the city, the development is beyond imagination and this development is not only for the residents of the city.
“But despite the fact that we have vast land, property in Maiduguri is more expensive than other cities in the North, except Abuja. The reason why houses are expensive in Maiduguri is that everybody wants to live within the heart of the city. The rich people don’t want to go outside the city to build houses and many people want to get land or a house in GRA. There are new GRAs established by the government but people always prefer the old GRA,” he said.
He added that another reason why prices of houses have skyrocketed is that some privileged individuals are building modern houses and are even buying old ones and reconstructing them into contemporary styles.
“A 50 by100 metres house in the old GRA costs above N20 million,” he said.
An owner of a block industry in Bulunkutu area of the metropolis, Mustapha Tijjani Ahmed, corroborated that the boom in the market has a trickle-down effect.
“Recently, we witnessed high patronage of customers buying blocks and other materials. I think the return of peace in Maiduguri is responsible for the increase in construction of property and we are grateful to Allah for the restoration of peace,” he added.
A dealer in building materials in Maiduguri, Mr Ukwudili Ibeh, also attributed the trend to the relative peace prevailing in Maiduguri.
“It is true that the property market is growing in Maiduguri and we thank God for the return of the new life full of economic opportunities,” he said.
Meanwhile, residents of Maiduguri metropolis have decried the hike in house rent despite the massive construction of houses in the capital city.
A resident of Gamboru area, Usman Goni, said the hike in house rent has become a source of concern.
“The increase of house rent which has doubled the previous rate has put us in a difficult condition and aggravated our hardships considering the austere socioeconomic realities. The trend has compelled low income earners and poor families to squeeze with their children in smaller rooms in some parts of Maiduguri. We are appealing to the state government to intervene in providing affordable housing for the masses,” he said.
Another resident, Danladi Ibrahim, said the property boom has not impacted on the life of ordinary people; only privileged individuals have benefited from the development because the hike in house rent in Maiduguri has put ordinary people on edge.
“My income has not increased but my house rent has increased by more than 70 per cent. We pray that government will do something about the issue to alleviate the sufferings of the poor,” Ibrahim said.
Responding to the rent hike, the chairman of landlords and property agents, Lawan Guye, attributed the hike to the influx of people in Maiduguri, especially the IDPs and people from the neighbouring states.
“The number of people moving to Maiduguri has increased and the cost of building houses has equally skyrocketed and whoever spends his money to construct a house must also increase the rent to recover his/her money and get his/her profit. A two-bedroom apartment is rented up to N500,000 in some areas and depending on the quality of buildings,” he said.