Property developers in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, have lamented that the COVID-19 locked down stalled their housing projects that would have been completed to boost the nation’s stock.
One of the firms affected is Brains and Hammers, a real estate development company. The Project Director, Mr Muktari Musa revealed its projects, which were conceived as self-sustaining and affordable programmes, designed to cater to the housing needs of the middle and low-income earners is now underway to make up for a lost time.
The project consists of one, two, three and four-bedroom flats. The first phase of the project is made up of 1,200 units, completed and 200 residents have moved in to occupy the smart city, and they targetted a total of 3,600 housing units when completed, he stated.
He also explained that the smart cities are much more than just residential buildings, adding that they are complete packages of commercial, hospitality, infrastructure, and property development in Abuja, Kano, and Lagos.
The Group’s Head of City Projects, Maryam Bello said the city was built as a standalone where every occupant would have access to whatever they need as a family, including high-level fibre optics for internet service, shopping malls, filling stations, schools, an orphanage, 24-hour power supply, and top-notch security.
“We believe the initiative will mark a new beginning in private sector participation in the provision of mass housing for Nigerians. The significance of the completion of phase one is not lost in us as a developer, nor on residents. As we enter the second phase of the construction process, we are focusing on delivering every component of the smart city plan. Our concern right now is the delivery of homes to our clients, and ensuring that this community is habitable and enjoyable.”
The Executive Director of Shelter Origins, Mr. Ezekiel Ojo said the Covid-19 pandemic actually exposed the country’s deficiencies in affordable housing. “There can be no lockdown without adequate housing in place for citizens.”
According to Ojo, during the pandemic, salaries of civil servants, and the income of prospective clients were affected because mortgage depends on these sources for development, which directly or indirectly, hinder developers from constructing houses.
“Mortgages were not paid during the pandemic, and many citizens lost their jobs and could not continue with their payments nor buy a property. The issue of overcrowding, and inability to own, is being addressed by the Government’s new initiative of 300,000 housing units plan,” he added.
On his part, the Chief Executive of Millard Fuller Foundation, Sam Odia said the pandemic experience has been a mixed bag on the supply and the demand side, while investments have been slowed down in the housing sector.
He said the market has not been able to mop up existing assets, leading to a low rate of supply while in the short term, most real estate businesses have not been out of the negative impact, as the pandemic has impacted negatively on the economy.
Odia emphasised that a major impact has been on the prices of imported goods, which led to a sharp increase in prices in the construction sector generally.
“This is becoming a mixed bag as demand for simple adequate housing increases. The government for instance has been reminded of the importance of housing for the poor, in this season of lockdown and social distancing. The short term effects of the pandemic have been largely negative; it has jolted a realisation of the greater need for simple, decent and affordable housing, which can only lead to greater activity in the sector in the long term.”
According to the Managing Director of Numatville Project Limited, Dr. Akin Olowookere the Covid-19 pandemic deterred optimum productivity in all ramifications.