Harsh economy forcing many city dwellers to uncompleted buildings
The stark reality of the harsh economic situation is leading to an upsurge of Nigerians moving to uncompleted buildings in major towns and on the outskirts, leaving some of the homeowners with sad tales.
However, the trend is growing spontaneously as housing has remained a major challenge in the cities due shortage of residential accommodation.
Many residents, who cannot afford decent homes, stay in houses that have structural defects, sewage challenges, congestion and lack of ventilation among others.
The true scale of housing challenge can be gathered from the fact that about 108 million Nigerians are estimated to be homeless based on an average family of six people per housing unit.
The figure pitched Nigeria high on the global figure of 1.6 billion people that lacked adequate housing as released by The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN–Habitat) in 2015.
This is a consequence of many factors, including rapid urbanisation and poverty, high cost of rents and currently mainly the terror by Boko Haram.
The practice is more evident in neighbouring towns within major cities like Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna and Port Harcourt.
In several parts of Lagos for instance, residents who cannot afford the high cost of apartments in the highbrow areas, move to the outskirts to rent apartments, which usually lack basic amenities.
These buildings, which are often in their uncompleted stages, are dotted in several estates, shanties and other dirty environment in border towns.
Ideally, people should not be living in such conditions, but in Lagos, it doesn’t matter because it is the survival of the fittest. The situation is worsened by the present economic realities, which led to 70 percent devaluation of Naira.
According to the United Nations, a house must have some basic amenities and once those things are not there people are bound to be expose to social risks.
These basic amenities include, adequate privacy, adequate space; physical accessibility; adequate security; security of tenure; structural stability and reliability; adequate lighting, heating and ventilation; adequate basic infrastructure, such as water supply, sanitation and waste-management facilities; suitable quality environment.
Apart from health hazards, living in such buildings also come with some social implications.
A Septuagenarian, Mrs. Eunice Erosomole, who lives in an uncompleted three bedroom Bungalow at Peace Estate, Mowe with her four children said, these amenities are a luxury they cannot think of because of the circumstance that forced them to live the unfinished home.
She was forced to relocate to the apartment with her children following the death of her husband. Narrating her ordeal, she had to park out because of her inability to pay the landlord in Ketu area of Lagos.
The landlord, she said, went as far as removing their roof and they have no option than to relocate even though, the building was yet to be ceiled, floored and plastered.
“ We are even lucky to have a place we can called our own, if not we don’t know what would have been our fate today”, she said.
Mrs. Erosomole said thieves, who broke into her house through the roof and the blocks, had robbed her severally.
Her children, she said, could have completed by the house but they are yet to secure employment even after graduating from the universities.
“ When, I lost my husband, I had the option to use his gratuity to complete the house but my two children were in the university. One was in his second year, while the other was in his final year. I came to the conclusion that the money should be used for their education. They have graduated but yet to get employment”, she lamented.
There was also the same case with Mr. Johnson Oleka, who is living with his family in Agbara in Ogun State.
Oleka was forced to his uncompleted building from Ilasa area of Lagos.
Apart from lack of infrastructure in the area, which is the trademark of such developing outskirts, he has constant battle with reptiles and robbers.
He rehearsed the sorry tale of how termites invaded one of the rooms he used as poultry in his house last month and killed all the birds; he was rearing to sell during December season.
Oleka said he has planned to use the proceeds to plaster the rooms and the sewage before the unfortunate incidence.
The trend is not limited in Lagos, as many residents in Marraba and environs in Nasarrawa State are living in uncompleted building because they cannot afford the rents in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
One of such residents, Upele John, said he commenced the building during the last administration but lost his job, hence his decision to park into the house with the family, as he could not afford the exorbitant house rents.
John said in this kind of situation nobody considers the risk associated with living in uncompleted, as you will see that you are not alone.
But the Country Leader at Cromwell Professional Services International and Urban Development, Sola Enitan, said there is no how anybody would continue to pay rents when he has an uncompleted building he could live in.
The situation, he said is further compounded when landlords are increasing rents in order to maximize their investments with the depreciating value of the Naira.
Enitan, an estate surveyor and valuer said the phenomenon could be traceable to the economic situation where the value of Naira is continuously depreciating.
“ Nobody can fault this phenomenon because naira has lost about 70 per cent of its value and nobody in his right sense who has an uncompleted building will like to go to pay rents”, he said.
Enitan, an Estate Surveyor and Valuer said the phenomenon could be linked to the clampdown on corruption by the present administration, which has reduced the income of majority of Nigerians who feed on corruption proceeds.