Decentralise Parastatals for Expansion of Devt in Rivers, Fubara Told

Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt

A real estate  strategist, My-Ace China, has advised the Governor Siminalayi Fubara-led government of Rivers State to make an immediate plan to decentralise some of the parastatals in the Port Harcourt to other local government areas, stressing that it will spread development across the state.

China popularly known as ‘Mayor of Housing’ who noted the need to decentralise some of the state government parastatals, said it would  also help people to work and live where affordable houses are located.

China, who spoke in Port Harcourt yesterday, during a parley with journalists, noted that one of the biggest policy revelations made by Governor Fubara on the day he was sworn in was the promise to launch a social housing scheme.

According to him, the housing scheme was intended to reduce housing crisis in the state and create access to houses for low-income people.

The real estate success strategist warned that government must not get involved in actual construction of houses, but should oversee the process.

He said it will not work if the government handles the construction, pre-qualification, and also allocation.

“The nature of Nigeria makes it foolhardy for any administration to think because the project is laudable, the system has become efficient.

“Nigerian system delays projects due to bureaucracy and corruption. A lot of value is lost in the corruption chain. When government wants to achieve social housing, the corruption and bureaucracy in the system would stifle it. The only option is to have it driven by the private sector,” he said.

 The Mayor of Housing explained that social housing is another name for ‘Affordable Housing’, a scheme where a government subsidises the cost of housing to a group, indigenes, civil servants, or underprivileged groups.

He said industry players were excited when the idea was announced by the new governor on day one. 

On what the Fubara government can do to actualise the scheme, he urged the government to target upcoming areas where land is still affordable and where construction would also be affordable.

He said: “But you would notice apathy by Port Harcourt residents to go outside the city centre. Now, with rising cost of transportation, and where all the civil servants work at the State Secretariat in the city centre, and if a housing scheme is at Omagwa or Obiri Ikwerre, and a worker has to travel from those places to work, the cost of transportation which has been worsened by subsidy removal would be counter-productive for the low-cost houses, meaning that the low-cost houses would no more be cost-effective.”

He advised the government to make basic infrastructure like schools and markets also available where they want the social housing Scheme to be located.

 “The third thing is to subsidise and privatise the construction. The major mistake with government-owned enterprises in Nigeria is the government initiative being run by government. When another administration comes, the project suffers. Then,  corruption which leads to padding and inflation of costs in components. This hampers the implementation because housing is very sensitive to quality control,” he said.

He said government needs to get an experienced industry player to provide the model and discount, then take the discount directly to the developer. He said the off-takers (owners) be pre-qualified by the government but they (Government) pay whatever payments directly to the off-taker.

“That way, the government only comes in to subsidize the developer and the pre-qualified off-takers take the houses at affordable rate.”

Again, China urged the state government to fish out the qualification of the housing design. “There is a new trend called minimalism architecture, where bogus houses are not allowed but simple eco-friendly functional houses.

“That is why the Mayor of Housing is one of the first companies in Nigeria to retain a minimalist architecture, someone that ensures the houses are simple enough to avoid waste in construction. This is because there are too many dead spaces in a house that consume money but are not functional in return and utility to the end owners,” he said.

He added that social housing could be one of the palliatives government can do in the face of subsidy removal and hyper inflation around the corner.

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