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LSDPC will partner with FG to reduce housing deficit, says Joseph

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam
07 February 2022   |   2:41 am
Ayodeji Joseph is a former member of the Federal House of Representatives and now the Managing Director, Lagos State Development and Property Corporation (LSDPC). He spoke with CHINEDUM UWAEGBULAM

Ayodeji Joseph is a former member of Federal House of Representatives and now the Managing Director, Lagos State Development and Property Corporation (LSDPC). He spoke with CHINEDUM UWAEGBULAM on how the corporation is assisting low-income earners to own homes and promoting new technologies in property developments

Ayodeji Joseph

In the past, LSDPC was at the forefront of housing development in the country, but that notion has changed as your organisation now relies more on private developers. Have you adopted a new policy in that regard? If no, what are your strategies?
SAYING that LSDPC now relies on private developers would be painting the wrong picture. Well, it is a blend of the two. If you randomly select any of our development partners, they would unequivocally describe their relationship with LSDPC as a mutually beneficial/symbiotic one.
The corporation adopted the Public-Private Partnership (PPP)/Joint Venture (JV) strategy under the leadership of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu when he held the position of Managing Director.  It is no secret that the resources of any government are not infinite and in a mixed economy like ours, the role of government is to create an enabling environment for the deployment of private investment towards critical areas of the economy.
Hence, it is only right that the foremost property development corporation at the forefront of inclusive governance policy ensures efficient and effective allocation of scarce resources.
For the corporation to continue to exist and provide to a large extent affordable housing, we need to make money. That’s why we have a blend of public and private developments. We’re not engaging fully in commercial activities.
Don’t you think commercialisation of property development through profit-driven developers will make housing unaffordable to the low-income earners?
Ever since the commercialisation of LSDPC in the 90s, the corporation stopped receiving government subvention. Rather, LSDPC pays dividends (which it generates from commercial activities) to the government.
We need money to provide houses. It is what we make that we utilise in providing houses for the low-income earners or engaging in any kind of property development.
However, the corporation is not oblivious of its role to make housing accessible. This is why it collaborates with Lagos State Government to plough back some of the profit generated from commercial activities towards the provision of affordable housing.
A case in point is the LagosHoms Ibeshe, Ikorodu, a joint project of LSDPC and Ministry of Housing, which 100s of multi-family apartments (with enviable amenities) have been delivered at grossly subsidised prices.
With more of such projects in the pipeline, LSDPC remains at the forefront of making high-quality housing accessible to the good citizens of Lagos State and Nigeria at large.

What steps have the corporation taken to ensure affordable housing in the state?
We encourage any form of product or scheme that could make houses affordable for the people. If there were technologies that would lower the cost of construction, we would embrace them.

The truth is that it is the same market we go to either to construct houses for the low or high-income earners or buy building materials. But if we get relatively cheaper materials that will make homes more affordable, we are also ready to adopt them. The amount and quantity of cement you will use in building houses in Lekki is the same in Epe or Badagry. So, it is quite challenging.

Are there projects ongoing for the low-income earners?
Well, very soon we will start phase II of Ibeshe housing scheme, which will be close to 200 flats and some private developers are also discussing with us on how to extend the scheme to Epe and Badagry.  We want to provide affordable housing in different divisions in Lagos.

The state government has proposed a monthly rent payment for tenants, with your wide range of estates, won’t this policy impact on your revenue, if you were to adopt this policy?
We are part of the government and can adopt whatever policy the government feels is ideal for its citizens. However, our estates where we do rentals are on the highbrow areas such as Victoria Island and Ikoyi. The law that exists has exempted these areas from paying rent monthly.

It would be fair for the low-income earners to be paying rent monthly but putting both the low and high-income earners on the same pedestal by paying rent monthly would be unfair.
Is the corporation considering Rent to Own in its schemes?
LSDPC is not adopting Rent to Own scheme. We can’t afford it at this time. It is whatever money we generate from the estates that we plough back into our property developments.
Also, it depends on the policy of the government on rent to own, if it becomes a law, everyone will have to key into it. As an arm of government, we cannot be found not abiding by the law.

As the new helmsman for LSDPC, what are the challenges in meeting the housing needs of the ever-growing population? What are your plans for the corporation?
The scarcest commodity in Lagos island. And to surmount that, we have partnered with landowners and developers. It is quite challenging getting land for development.
As I have said, providing shelter for the common man is also a herculean task. Ordinarily, we like to do it, but in the market where we play, the building materials markets are not favourable for us to provide mass housing. It is a knotty issue.
Also, there are a lot of houses owned by the Federal government in Lagos abandoned for decades, we are looking at ways of partnering with the Federal Government, so that the federal and Lagos State Governments can make money from these properties and reduce the housing deficit.

We will also intensify efforts to do what we call third party joint ventures because there are people that have land, they don’t have money to develop them. We know companies that have money, searching for a property to develop. What we will do is to marry the two of them, ensure that we perfect all their documents and help them market the houses.
Another thing is that we will not focus only on residential construction; we want to explore the entertainment, hospitality and retail developments.
We have been getting responses from interested firms and organisations that want to partner with us in those areas, especially building hospitals and hostels. Presently, we’re working in Oluwole,Central Lagos on three commercial developments and some mixed schemes in the Ajah-Lekki corridor.

New technologies are emerging in housing construction, and some developers are shifting to green buildings. Has your corporation considered adopting them to redefine housing in the state?
The corporation knows the importance of venturing into green buildings. The development or introduction of green building into the system requires due process, which involves obtaining the necessary certification in line with the government policy.
In most of our schemes, we’re looking more towards renewable energy; we plan to distance ourselves from generators.  We all know about the depletion in the ozone layer and focusing more on gas and solar, to support whatever power we are getting from PHCN. We also welcome whatever technology that would save our environment.
Certainly, new technologies are emerging in housing construction to complement the current practices in creating greener structures, with the mindset of the objective, which is to reduce the overall negative impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment.

The concept also takes the whole life cycle of generating a design that provides natural aeration in and around the building. Some of the new technologies, which redefines housing in the country, are enormous such as making use of solar energy generation to power buildings.
Introduction of integrated waste treatment system (for wastewater), this completely solves all sewage problems by converting sewage to treated water to service the building environment and production of biogas, which can be used for cooking, also in the situation where there is a lot of effluents it can generate enough gas to power general street light within an estate, basically, this system solves three major issues on waste:  eliminates odour, space reclamation guaranteed and eliminates evacuation of sludge.
Green buildings are designed, constructed and operated to enhance the well-being of their occupants and support a healthy community and natural environment.
Green buildings typically, include better air quality, abundant natural lighting, availability of views and noise control for occupants of the building, making these buildings a better place. The buildings give priority to environmental considerations at every stage of the construction namely: planning design, implementation, operation and maintenance. Green buildings offer many benefits to many construction industry stakeholders, including building residents and the community as a whole.

Experts in the building industry have been clamouring for the use of locally sourced building materials. What’s LSDPC doing in that regard? How do we bring down the cost of construction in the country?
What are the things responsible for the high cost of construction, can we find solutions to them locally? We don’t import sand or cement, but their prices are high. LSDPC supports the use of locally sourced building materials to reduce the cost of construction.
Concerted efforts have been put in place by the corporation to explore local options available aimed at reducing the cost of housing, a typical example is the use of hydraform, a clay component that is readily available within the country.