From Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has said it would tackle the accommodation deficit of its workforce by building 400 units of houses every year.
This assurance was made by FCT Minister, Muhammad Musa Bello, at a parley with the Head of Service of the Federation Mrs. Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita on the broadening of partnership on the Federal Integrated Staff Housing Scheme (FISH).
Bello said the FCT 2016 statutory budget has made provision for the project, which he reiterated would improve the welfare of the workers and boost the housing demand for federal capital city that is growing at the rate of 20 per cent annually.
He lamented the plight of middle and junior level officers who do not own properties in the city. “Before I was appointed Minister, I had the impression that everybody in the FCTA was also a landlord. But to my surprise, I realized that a number of the staff, particularly those in the middle level and junior cadre do not own properties in the city. Some of them have worked here for so many years, processing land applications, processing files, giving approvals, providing services, but they have been tenants in this city. Some of them never had the opportunity of occupying the houses that were sold some years back.”
Oyo-Ita lamented that accommodation had become a challenge for civil servants since 2001 as workers who could not benefit from the monetization policy in existence then, now either have to build houses at huge costs or are facing tenancy issues with landlords.
She stressed that FISH to be pursued at different ministerial platforms, will ease workers’ accommodation burden through private development.
Last week, the federal government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Shelter Habitat under a United Nations supervised scheme, to provide 10,000 units of affordable accommodation for public workers.
The HoS pleaded with the FCT Administration to support the scheme by allocating a piece of land for the development of the housing estate and other infrastructure paramount to the project.
Bello assured that he was ready to support FISH objective, even if it means retrieving lands that were previously allocated to other government institutions.
While lamenting that pockets of houses were built in the past without proper linkage with the city centre in terms of access road, power lines, water lines and sewage, the minister said the FCTA has concluded plans to revamp its mass housing programme to make it more inclusive and responsive to the requirements of Nigerians, especially the civil servants.