By YUSUF MOHAMMED
Shelter is a major challenge in Lagos state. As one of the most densely populated cities in the world with the United Nations Population agency putting the population of Lagos at over 21 million. Many people flock to Lagos in search of greener pastures due to the economic viability of the state. Lagos is also a socially attractive city with lots of activities.
The infrastructure on the other hand is not comparable and commensurate with the population. Lack of adequate infrastructure to accommodate the teeming population in Lagos is one of the reasons The Economist in an annual report, named Lagos as the second least livable city in the world.
In order to cater for minimum wage earners in the state, who constitute majority of the population, the Lagos State government during the administration of Governor Babatunde Fashola decided to build ‘low cost’ housing estates
However, according to Business Hallmark findings, these houses may be called low cost houses but they are quite expensive for ordinary Nigerians to afford. Fashola as governor himself had admitted that there is nothing like low cost housing because there are no low cost building materials in the market and it is the cost of the materials that determines the cost of the houses.
House rent is a major source of worry for minimum wage earners in Nigeria who earn not more than N18, 000 in a month, as they are very expensive. In the highbrow areas of Lagos, houses have become so expensive that tenants are leaving for rural areas.
According to reports, many Lagos residents live in slums and substandard houses. Affordable housing schemes in Nigeria have been proposed several times as a solution to the housing problems. It would be recalled that in 1991, the Lagos government rolled out “Housing for all by the year 2000.” Nigeria has about 17 million housing deficit.
Fast forward to 28 years later, many are of the view that the Lagos State government has not been able to provide affordable houses for majority of the residents despite the fact that low cost housing estates have been built by the government.
BusinessHallmark took a visit to Chief Anthony Enahoro Housing estate Ogba, Ikeja phase II on Iman Runmokun drive. The security men at the gates do not let anyone in without the permission of the residents. Before leaving the estate, you must provide a gate pass given to you by a resident.
Residents there refused to reveal anything about the houses when asked questions by our correspondent. They said anyone that wants to make enquiries about the houses should go to their head office at Alausa. However, people living around the estate were able to reveal the little they knew.
Muftau Agbara, who prays in Oluwole Mosque beside the estate, told this newspaper that, “the estate which they call low cost isn’t low cost in anyway.” He said, “This place is for big men. People like me cannot afford to rent or buy any flat here. The residents here drive luxurious cars. All flats have been occupied. I have a friend who wanted to rent a one bedroom apartment but was asked to go elsewhere.”
Aside from the estate at Ogba, there are several other low cost housing estates built by the Lagos State government. BH learnt that the prices of the flats vary in terms of the number of rooms and location. Some estates are for sale, while some are for rent.
At Sir Michael Otedola estate, the flats are for sale. A room and parlour unit’s price is N1, 500,000; five percent down payment is N75, 000 while monthly payment is N15, 820.24. One bedroom unit price at the same estate is N2, 000,000, 5% down payment is 100,000 while monthly payment is N21, 093.10. A two bedroom apartment unit price is N3, 5000, 000; five percent down payment is N175, 000 while monthly payment is N36, 914
At Ajara, Badagry, the flats are also for sale. A one bedroom unit price is N2, 000,000; five percent down payment is N100, 000 while monthly payment is N21, 093. A two bedroom unit price is N3, 500,000; five percent down payment is N175, 000 while monthly payment is N36, 914. A three bedroom unit price is N6, 000,000; five percent down payment is N300, 000 while monthly payment is 63,281.
At Okwo-Oba, before Abbatior Succo, Lagos homes estate has two bedroom flats. Flats here are for rent. Each of the flats has two bedrooms and a living room. Each of the two bedroom flats cost N700, 000 in the first year. Subsequently it goes for N500, 000
Speaking about the flats at Ajara, Badagry, Aisha Tijani who lives at Alasia in Badagry, said that she finds “it ridiculous to be paying N21, 000 every month for 10 years after five percent down payment of 100,000.” I work and I earn N30, 000 every month. If I am to be paying N21, 000 every month for just one bedroom, how much would be left with me? I still have other bills to take care of. In my view, this estate wasn’t built for people like me. It was built for rich people. Government should build real low cost housings for the masses.” She said
Another Lagos resident, Jide Aileru, said, “I would have rented a three bedroom flat and paid little by little for 10 years at Ogba housing estate until it becomes mine but I got discouraged when I got into the apartment to check it out. The bedrooms and sitting rooms are very small. You need to see the kitchen. Where I am staying at Isolo is far more spacious than that place but I pay less.”
According to a staff at the Ministry of Works and Housing in Lagos who pleaded for anonymity, “The Lagos State government had good intentions. The problem is that they used expensive materials to build these so-called low cost houses and as a result of that, the houses are quite expensive to rent.
“Any attempt by the Lagos State government to distribute the houses at give away prices would result in an overwhelming budget deficit for the government. Government cannot lose in the name of proving affordable houses for the masses,” he revealed.