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Experts lament impact of COVID-19 pandemic on housing sector

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Festus Adebayo

Built environment experts have expressed concerns that the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic could impact adversely on housing delivery and trigger abandoned projects.

The professionals appealed to Federal Government for a workable policy that would revive abandoned projects and create access to land for developers.

One of the experts and Executive Director, Housing Development Advocacy Network (HDAN) Mr. Festus Adebayo, advised government and developers not to relent despite the effect of the pandemic on housing. He urged them to see the need to increase housing stock in the country.

He also appealed to government to urge cement manufacturers to reduce the price of the commodity, which has become a threat to housing delivery.

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Adebayo said: “We urge stakeholders not to relent in their effort towards achieving an environment-friendly housing and construction industry. There should be more investment in the real estate and mortgage sectors.”

He argued that steps should be taken to finance housing projects nationwide while the government should recapitalised the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria.

The Managing Director, Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, (FMBN) Ahmed Dangiwa, said COVID-19 has impacted housing finance institutions, especially the management of National Housing Fund (NHF) contributions. However, he assured that very soon, the construction industry would be rejigged to boost the economy.

He said that the bank is working towards engaging mortgage beneficiaries on the modalities of repayment amid the second wave of pandemic.

An estate surveyor and valuer, Haruna Diri, the lockdown and the restrictions imposed by the federal government recently, affected the housing industry and other sectors of economy.

Diri said the coronavirus pandemic stalled private and public housing projects as well as contracts because there were no funds, free movement of goods and services to the sites, which led to increase in the prices of cement, rods and sand.

On the proposed 300,000 social housing schemes, he said it was a good initiative, given the country’s challenge with high rates of unemployment, adding that investment in housing will create vibrant economy.

He appealed to the state governments to do more in the area of foreclosure laws that would guarantee access to land for property developers.

Contributing, the Executive Director, Shelter Origins, Mr. Ezekiel Ojo, stated that prices of building materials have become costly, especially in the last quarter of last year and this year. He also said scarcity of funds have affected take-off of new projects.

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