Uncertainty hovered at the weekend over the stretch of land covering Mowe, Ofada, Papalanto corridor and its environs, as there seems to be no respite for estate developers affected in the wake of the Ogun State government’s acquisition four years ago.
The roughly 37 hectares land was acquired under the proposed new town development scheme to control indiscriminate housing development of structures and inappropriate planning along the axis. The scheme had been under the private ownership of no fewer than 40 estate developers, who were at various stages of completion.
Specifically, the acquired portions of land included the stretch from Odeda, Ifo, Mowe, Ofada and Papalanto to Abeokuta exchange, for which the Ogun state government had in 2012 paid compensation to the tune of N88 million to 69 individuals, whose property were to be demolished in the course of constructing the Agbeloba axis of Abeokuta, a six-lane road.
However, the affected estate developers were, on their part, given the option of coming forward to ratify their documents with the relevant authorities at a cost that they consider outrageous. Thus, they now worry that the harmless subscribers may have to bear the brunt of government’s policy at the end of the day.
Speaking on the development, Chairman, Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), South-West Zone, Dr. Olugbenga Nubi lamented that the government has refused to come back to the discussion table over the matter. He noted that members of REDAN are negatively affected by the situation as it has led to a lot of projects being stalled and prolonged beyond the stipulated time. He, however, expressed hope that the Ogun State government will soon look into the matter.
Nubi observed that the quest for personal recognition and praise for projects done under a particular regime are probably what is behind the Ogun State government’s action of acquiring the long stretch of land. He added that the government and the private sector should never see themselves as competitors but as partners who should complement each other.
Nubi regretted that none of the affected estate developments that the government is asking for ratification in the area contain less than 1,000 units, which were meant to boost housing delivery.
“It is a win – win situation for the government when they carry the private sector along. They should create enabling environment the way the Lagos State government did in Lekki axis. There is no deadlock as far as we are concerned.
Estate developers who spoke with The Guardian expressed similar sentiments as Nubi, lamented that projects that were already evaluated for a particular amount were no longer executable.
Speaking further, Nubi stated that the government does not really need those lands it has acquired but rather wants revenue.
“It is as if the Ogun state government suddenly realized that because of their proximity to Lagos, their land is as good as oil,” he said.
“For me, I have paid their documentation charges but we are just pleading that government should make it more reasonable because at the end of the day, what we are doing as developers is not really for ourselves but actually helping the government to fill this massive gap by providing low-cost housing,”Bamidele Onalaja of Revolution Plus Property Development Company said.
He continued: “Bear in mind that some of these estates they are asking us to come and ratify with them, already have C of O issued by the out gone governor Otunba Gbenga Daniel. People have laboured and built on these lands with other people’s money, they have allocated to subscribers and now a new government just comes up to acquire and then you are now saying they should come and ratify again.”
Mr. Harrison Agboifoh of Landmark Corporate Realty Limited is worried that in spite of high charges by the government for documentation, not much is really being done to regulate the housing sector as it concerns real estate developments, especially in the face of government’s seeming failure to provide housing for the low-income groups and informal sector of the country.
Onalaja added: “We as developers are saying, we are going to help you and make your land appreciate but don’t cut our throat in the process.
“We will pay. Come up to the table and let us talk. Now the amount they are asking us to pay for the documentation is huge. Who is going to pay it? It is the subscribers that will pay it at the end of the day.”