Port Harcourt – Developers in Rivers state have lamented the cost of building materials saying that what they are charging as house rent was not commensurate with the cost of constructing an apartment.
Reports show that for three years running, the cost of building materials has skyrocketed, thereby reducing the number of developers or those who intend to build personal houses just to avoid continuous payment of rent to landlords.
The effect is now becoming unbearable as those in the building materials business are already counting their losses, stressing that the cost of buying materials like rod, planks, cement, sand, roofing sheets among others have made it almost impossible for them to have customers like before.
They also revealed that such has equally pushed some of them out of business while maintaining that if the trend was left unchecked, it might negatively affect the common man who is still grappling with the difficulty of finding his daily bread under the present economic woes.
Such persons might also be faced with accommodation problem thereby wondering why government could not provide low-cost houses for people especially the low-income earners.
Government should, as a matter of necessity, provide the enabling environment for the developers to have building materials that would be affordable by subsidising for them.
Commenting on the situation, Engr Barry Eke, a Civil Engineering, and building construction expert informed our correspondents that things have not changed for better as most of the developers were forced to abandon their uncompleted houses as a result of the cost of building materials.
“Imagine”, pointing to an uncompleted building, I started this duplex since three years ago. The cement we were buying was at the cost of N1,750 now is N2,600. We used to buy sand at the cost of N27,000 per trip but now it costs N32,000 per trip.
“30 tons chippings that we bought at the cost of N180,000, is now sold at N250,000. Rod, 8mm is now N1000 as against N800, 12mm costs N2,400 as against N1,800 while 16mm which sold for N2800 is now N3,200. Aluminum roofing sheets, Nails. Planks among others have sky-rocketed”, he stated.
Another developer who identified himself as Chief Ugo, expressed disappointment, saying that the present economic situation in the country was not helping developers in any way.
He maintained that the cost of building materials has affected him seriously, noting that when he built his first house seven years ago, the situation was different.
He said that the situation was nothing to be proud of.
“When I built my first house I used six months to complete the roofing, but now the reverse is the case. I can’t even make out anything despite the huge amount of money I have spent. “The more I spend, the more the house looks as if no money is expended. Everything now is expensive even with sub-standard materials flooding the market. It is very horrible”.
On the way forward, he said that government should live up to their responsibility by making building materials available and affordable for the developers.
“If they can’t build low-cost houses for people to rent, can’t they owe it as a duty to make building materials available and affordable?
Meanwhile, Mr. Chukwuma Uzo, a building materials dealer around Rumuobiakani axis of Port Harcourt, Rivers state has attributed the rising cost of building materials to the rise in dollar rate.
According to him, most of the building materials are imported and the foreign exchange rate is impacting negatively on them.
“Most of the building materials are imported and you don’t expect them to be cheap when the dollar is so high. And moreover, you must sell depending on how you buy and most importantly the essence of business is to make profit no matter how small such a business may be”, he stated.
Another dealer who did not want his name in print told our Correspondents that Port Harcourt with moribund seaports is also contributing to this unfortunate development.
To him “most of these building materials are transported through roads. And you know what happens on the Nigerian roads. From customs to police, police to road safety. After spending all the money, businessmen will always find a way to recover their money”, he stated.
Furthermore, .he said that if the ports were working optimally, most of the materials would have found their ways here with less expense.
Concluding, therefore, Uzo, stressed the need for the government to have an open market Operation instead of what are termed monopoly of essential building materials such as cement.
He said that “if government should allow open market operation, it would have been better. How can one person be allowed to monopolise an essential commodity like cement and you expect the cost to be low? No, never” on the other hand, government should consider waiver on building materials and more importantly begin to think out of the box on how to manufacture these materials locally”, he maintained.