Lagos tasks building sector operatives, others on mass housing delivery

THE Lagos State Government has called on stakeholders in the building industry to come together and fashion out policies and programmes that can aid the provision by government of good quality and affordable homes in Lagos State and Nigeria in general. Governor Raji Fashola, Association of Professionals Bodies of Nigeria (APBN) and other stakeholders, spoke in Lagos at this year’s Lagos Housing Fair, which ended at the weekend.

The yearly fair, organised by Beachland Resources Limited and Lagos State Radio Service, has since it debut in 2001, been a platform for the construction experts to cross-fertilise ideas within the industry. This year, the fair focused on: “Appropriate materials in housing delivery.”

Although he acknowledged that the construction industry is at the threshold of repositioning, both in terms of vision and delivery, most stakeholders agree on the need for a rethink on the methods, process and execution of mass housing project as it would allow for wholesome approach to mass housing delivery.

Besides, building materials have been thorny issue in the building industry. Issues of concern range from substandard to proliferation of fake materials, which experts have blamed for building collapse. Only last Monday, a yet to be completed development gave way within popular Oshodi Market, in the state.

Fashola, in his speech, read by Commissioner for Housing, Mr. Onibokun, had said: “I am of the opinion that this Fair is another interactive forum for stakeholders to rub minds on construction production management with the ultimate aim of reducing the cost and time as it relates to housing delivery.

Shelter, according to him, takes priority in the hierarchy of needs of man. “The provision of housing has therefore been a major concern to us in Lagos State.”

But the Governor said that due to rising cost of materials, provision of mass housing had become extremely capital intensive, eluding the common man. According to him, the cost of delivering housing projects is usually very high and this affects affordability in terms of pricing and purchasing of the houses. Another major challenge for mass housing provision is the technology for its production.”

He, therefore, called on all stakeholders to evolve pragmatic solution that could aid mass housing delivery. “Participants and exhibitors should look inwards and offer useful suggestions of housing policies, programmes and projects relating to appropriateness of materials used in housing delivery’, adding that, the areas to focus on should include:

* appropriateness in terms of the quality of materials being used;

* appropriateness in terms of technology and period of delivery i.e. systems building options e.g. prefab panel, polymer, hollow pots etc;

* appropriateness in terms of environmental factors i.e. recycle, and raffia palm thatched roofs, red bricks etc and perhaps most important; and,

* appropriateness in terms of cost effectiveness.

Reviewing the conventional building methods of brick and mortar, the Governor, said that, that were hard pressed to cope with quantity since the processes involved are time consuming, systems building was time saving and therefore had the advantage of speed.

One solution to mass housing, according to him, was to industrialise the process that would entail the use of standardised components, materials and/or processes to produce the number of required homes at reasonable prices.

“It is our belief that if appropriate materials are found and appropriate technology adopted, then economies of scale will set in and the houses would become cheaper with faster rate of production.”

Senator Bode Olajumoke, representing Moladi Nigeria, a housing consultancy firm and developers, assured the gathering his readiness to push the bill at the national assembly, Senator Olajumoke, while supporting the view of Akinbamidele on the sense in injecting the fund in the housing sector said the enormous pension fund is lying idle for nothing, noting that he is going to lobby his colleagues and friends in the chambers for consideration over the suggestion.

He urged APBN led by Alhaji Jimoh Mohammed Faworaja, an architect to rally his colleagues to ensure that the document is professionally prepared.

SON’s Director-General, represented by Mr. Adebola Fashina, noted that while there is shortage of housing in Nigeria, “some of the available ones are collapsing unceremoniously”.

He however, agreed that SON is yet to achieve 100 per cent result in the delivery of its mandate, particularly in ensuring appropriate materials in housing delivery, but can point at the involvement of the necessary stakeholders in the standardisation process in Nigeria, “the key to ensuring appropriate materials in housing delivery.

The organisation also revealed that it has reopened six out of the eight steel industries shut two weeks ago in Lagos and Ogun states for what Fashina described as non-conformity with the minimum standard in quality of products’.

Senator Olajumoke who said he was excited by the recent announcement by the Housing Minister of the Federal Government’s plans to build 500 housing units in each senatorial district across the country said the plan is achievable.

According to him, the goal could be achieved if only funds are available and good policy in place. He however said housing delivery could be achieved if private investors are encouraged further by providing enabling environment. “With new but less complex technology such as the one introduced by Moladi Nigeria, South Africa based construction giant, functional mortgage facilities and competent personnel, Nigeria is capable of providing the housing needs of citizenry”.

Lagos Commissioner for Transportation, Prof. Bamidele Badejo, said that Nigerian professionals need to be encouraged by government by way of patronising them.

“What I think we need to do is to move beyond whistle blowing. There is capacity challenge in Nigeria. We need to make use of our local professionals since that is only way they can acquire more competence and stop depending on foreigners who are not better than their local counterparts.”

Earlier, General Manger, Lagos State Radio Service and Chairman of the fair, Mrs. Tinu Aina-Badejo, said that the purpose of the exhibition has been “to make the country self sufficient in the production of building, as well as the delivery of quality houses and thereby enhance the country’s capacity in the exportation of products and services in the sector.”

Justifying the choice of the theme of the fair, Aina-Badejo said it was based on their resolve to beam a searchlight on the critical area of building construction, specifically to focus on types of materials for building construction, the sourcing or production of these materials, as well as cost and suitability, adding that, materials constitute over 60 per cent of the cost of a housing project.

Another issue, said to be related to usage of substandard materials is the syndrome of quack engagement. “There is also the problem of engagement of quacks in building production management. It appears that the state of our economy has made many people amenable to usage of poor quality material”, which she said must be curtailed.”



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