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Lagos government to partner builders on artisans training

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Sanwo-Olu. Photo: twitter/jidesanwoolu

To ensure improved housing, the Lagos State Government has welcomed a proposal by the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB) for a partnership arrangement for continuous upgrading of the skills and competencies of artisans.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry for housing, Mr. Wasiu Akewusola, who spoke during a visit of NIOB to the Ministry of Housing at Ikeja, called for improved collaboration with all the professional associations in the built sector for a speedy actualisation of the transformation agenda of the State government in the housing sector.

He stressed that such upgrading is a crucial prerequisite for delivering high-quality buildings. According to him, the significant role played by artisans cannot be underestimated as they determine the exactness of the specifications of most building projects.

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“It is therefore in the best interest of all stakeholders along the building value chain to spare a thought for the continuous improvement of the skills of these artisans so that their output can justify the time and financial investment of all concerned”, Akewusola added.

He also noted that the failure of most building designs lies in the inability of artisans to correctly translate building plans or designs into reality.

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“Artisans are very important in achieving the goals of building safe and sustainable homes hence Lagos government is set for active involvement in capacity building for this category of workers, he disclosed.

He further pointed out that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the nation will improve with the enhanced capacity of the artisans.

According to him, upgrading and retooling of artisans would make them to be more marketable in the global labor market.

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Earlier, the Chairman of the Lagos State Chapter of NIOB, Mr. Sunday Wusu, pointed out that the association is interested in supporting the State government in developing contents and modules that would result in enhancing the capabilities of masons, tillers, painters and aluminum fabricators who will on the long run add value to the deliverables of the State government in the housing sector.

Wusu added that safety and quality of homes can only be assured when the artisans are well-grounded in their various areas of specialization.

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Also, a former Chairperson of the chapter, Mrs. Said Adenike also appealed for the placement of some of the association’s trainees on the ongoing projects of the State so that they can acquire appropriate site experience to boost their understanding of the practice.

In a related development, the Lagos state government is working out a new housing financing scheme to solve the peculiar housing challenges in the state.

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The scheme to be launched soon will be channeled through microfinance banks with cooperative societies serving as intermediaries, while construction funds will also be granted to developers having vertical construction with sustainable energy ideas.

It will also be made up of contributions made by both the government and the private sector.

Before now, financing housing development and empowering people for accessibility are the twin issues hampering the impact of government intervention in the housing sector.

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However, the proposed financial product known as Lagos Affordable Housing Development Fund, promises relief to both developers and aspiring homeowners.

The Guardian learned that the structured financing mechanism would focus on the informal sector so that the majority of residents can take advantage.

The financing package is unique because it is targeted at low-income earners and can also be accessed by both construction companies and home seekers

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It was gathered that part of the financing will serve as a Habitat fund which will be given as loans to those earning between N20, 000 and N59, 000 with a repayment plan of 20 years.

The fund will also cater to training and capacity building and upgrading of artisans and mortgage operators, development of innovative building technology, sustainable housing developments and renewable of slums.

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Confirming this development, Lagos State Commissioner for Housing, Moruf Akinderu-Fatai said the state is working hard to map out housing financing products that are domesticated to solve the peculiar housing challenges of the State.
He said while global financing models are attractive; they may not address the unusual problems of Lagos State.

According to him, although, the provision of mass and social housing is a key agenda of the State government, the impact could only be felt when there is a structured financing mechanism that is based on predictable population growth.

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Apart from the Rent to Own scheme which gives the opportunity of repayment over a period of 10 years, the State government is also looking at more workable financing options that will help the informal sector.

Akinderu-Fatai pointed out that the housing challenge in Lagos is complex because of the continued and uncontrollable influx of people from all over the nation.

He noted that given the rate at which the population of the state is increasing, there must be proactive measures to ensure that governmental interventions result in substantial positive impacts in the lives of the people.

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The Commissioner stressed that a viable housing development fund is one that will address the issue of financing both the supply and demand angles of Housing development.

He pointed out that the commitment of the State government is unequivocal adding that “Lagos State will continue to work relentlessly until more Lagosians are brought on the homeownership ladder.

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Also, the vice-chairman of Lagos State chapter of Nigerian Institute of Town planners, Mr. Lookman Oshodi noted the importance of funding in meeting the housing needs of Lagos state.

Oshodi, who is a development consultant to the Lagos State government as well as the project director of Artic Infrastructure, said the proposed funding could be sourced from contributions by local governments, subventions, infrastructure development charge, Housing fund surcharge, and Lagos Pension fund.

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Private sector contributions, he said, can be in form of grants and donations from both local and international organizations.

He also stressed that the housing development fund will cater to training and capacity building and upgrading of artisans and mortgage operators, development of innovative building technology, sustainable housing developments and renewable of slums.

On his part, chairman Lagos state branch of Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Fitzgerald Umah, said the affordable housing development fund is a good proposal capable of changing the Lagos housing narrative if the state can muster the political will to implement it to the letter.

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