The Head of the Department of Building, University of Lagos, Prof. Godwin Idoro, has described as multi-dimensional the problems plaguing the housing sector in the country.
Idoro, who spoke at the 10th Annual Project Management Lecture organised by the department, said the problem of housing and infrastructure in country affected the low-income earners most.
He said, “The situation in Nigeria is nothing to write home about. First, the available houses and those being developed are above the reach of the low-income earners. They are meant for speculation purpose; that is, either sale or rent, and not for home ownership – a business that is meant for the rich.
“Secondly, their supply is grossly short of demand, thereby making the low-income earners unable to afford comfortable accommodations. Thirdly, the cost of housing and infrastructure is excessively high, thereby making the low and middle-income earners unable to own houses and communities unable to embark upon minor infrastructural projects. Fourth, the mortgage facilities available are not within the reach of the low-income earners.”
According to him, the situation has brought about overcrowding in homes, development of slums and other abnormal or inhuman settlements in the urban areas, with the Federal Government and the various state governments designing several programmes to address the problem, most of which are not working.
Such programmes, he noted, included the site and services scheme, estate development programmes, land acquisition programmes, National Housing Fund, home ownership programmes and mortgage finance schemes.
“The question we should ask ourselves is: are these programmes still alive or dead? If they are alive, are they working? Are the various intervention funds provided by governments, the establishment of numerous mortgage finance institutions and the housing programmes of the numerous property development firms directed toward providing affordable houses for the low income earners?” Idoro queried.
Describing the provision of housing and infrastructure as an important issue that should concern everyone as the second after food in the hierarchy of human needs, the don said the biggest challenge of all was that of poor quality standards of the various houses being developed in the country.
He noted that the problem of quality was responsible for the increasing emergence of slums, incessant collapse of buildings and infrastructure, and illegal developments.
Idoro added, “This problem can be traced to the use of fake and inferior materials and components, the patronage of quacks, high level of corruption, the practice of contract trafficking, lack of local construction codes and standards, lack of effective regulation of project delivery process and/or technology, non-engagement of the right professionals and dearth of skilled craftsmen, among others.