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Unplanned ‘estates’ proliferate in Lagos

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…One of such unplanned estates

Daily, clusters of residential structures are sprouting up in different parts of Lagos State in the name of residential or housing estates, but without appropriate appurtenances or facilities.

This makes a mockery of what the term residential/housing estate ought to be, which is simply a group of homes and other buildings built together as a single development, the exact form of which may vary from city to city.

A housing estate is further described as one usually built by a single contractor, with only a few styles of house or building design that tend to be uniform in appearance.

But of late, the continuous rise in the population of the state and the increasing need to accommodate this influx has led to a situation where all manner of clusters are gated and they suddenly take up the appellation estates.

Even when there is a conscious effort to develop a proper estate so to speak, there is the stark failure of regulators to enforce strict adherence to laid-down standards, a development that leads to widespread contravention of established building codes, laws and standards.

Consequently, desperate accommodation seekers are not only fleeced by unscrupulous developers, they are also made to pay for facilities that are clearly sub-standard, while services paid for, in some of them, are either haphazard, or are totally non-existent.

On what has led to the proliferation of estates in the state, the Estate Manager, Imperial Homes Estate, Ikate Elegushi, Lekki Epe Expressway, Lagos, Mr. Fagbuyi Olaniran said, “one of the reasons responsible for this is the increase in the number of people in the middle income bracket. This set of people, yearn for a more conducive, secure and serene living environment. However, the demand currently outweighs the supply in this regard. The huge human population in Lagos equally makes demand for good housing to outweigh supply.

“In addition to this, the secure rate of return on invested funds in relation to estate development, especially for property in good locations and ability of property to appreciate in value over time tends to attract a lot of investors.

Under normal circumstances, services that residents ought to be offered by these estates that are not obtained in regular residential quarters include, “well spacious apartments with good finishing and fittings; regular power supply, well secured and serene environment, presence of in-house services providers like plumbers, electricians, furniture and car wash services etc,” Olaniran said.

But Oizamsi Balogun, a resident of the state simply thinks that most so-called estates in the state are simply unplanned and constitute a nuisance. I personally feel that they are not just giving services expected of them to members of the public, who are in need of good, secure accommodation. The ones that are doing that are grossly over-priced”

Another resident, Bayo Akindele is of the view that it is the failure of government to provide affordable accommodation to the teeming populace that is forcing accommodation seekers to flock to these mushroom estates that are sprouting up everywhere.

Akindele, who regretted the proliferation of these facilities, said the government should be held responsible “for failure to ensure that standards are maintained in these unplanned estates. In most of the new towns, as I chose to call them, it is the landlords that develop the communities by constructing drainage and roads; erect electric poles and attract power. With all the provisions they have made for themselves, people living in such communities just mount gates in strategic locations as exit and entrance and dub their exclusive neighbourhoods “estates.”

Omolola Odunsi, who lives in one of such gated communities, tagged “estates” says they are happy with the little sense of security they have provided for themselves as well as the “estate” status that they now enjoy.

“In some of these places, a two-bedroom apartment costs as much as N800, 000 per year and the agents that are the middlemen are mainly the ones that are making matters unbearable,” she said.

Further explaining what has given rise to the proliferation of estates in the state, an estate surveyor and Principal Partner at Ubosi Eleh & Co, Mr. Chudi Ubosi said, “the rapid increase of estates in Lagos State, especially along the Lekki Epe axis is because many developers, businessmen and quasi developers have begun to see real estate as a goldmine.

“Remember that statistically Nigeria has a shortfall of over 17 million units of housing. This is a huge latent demand. So, there is a market. To tap into that market, many people have gone into real estate to effectively make an impact; it is not to begin the development of single homes in already built up areas, where acquisition of existing re-developable land is expensive. So, these businessmen and developers go out to the new areas that are opening up. There, they can kill several birds with one stone; they can get huge hectares of land very cheap, which they can carry out development in phases and lay out infrastructure gradually. And best of all, they can enter into long term agreements with all the stakeholders, including the land owners to phase payment as they (developers) receive payments for either the plots of land being sold, or the houses developed.

“So, what this does is that it creates large and medium sized estates with plots ranging from 10/15 plots to over 100/200 units. You will notice that the preponderance of these new estates are in the new parts of Lagos that are opening up because very few developers can afford large cash flows to undertake large estate development within the urban, already built up areas,” the principal partner explained.

On services that properly established estates offer their residents that other mushroom estates do not, and which are not obtainable in regular residential quarters, Ubosi said: “the interesting thing about these new estates and even the older ones is that they offer Nigerians a sense of community and communal security. Regular residential quarters means that passers-by can walk up to your gate; it means that oftentimes, your home is on a busy road or thoroughfare. Again, the security aspect is highlighted, as well as noise levels, in addition to numerous other small disturbances that come with life in Lagos and Nigeria. Many estates offer estate security, central water system and power generating services so that residents pay a simple service charge at the end of the month to enjoy these services, rather than dig their own boreholes, own their own power generating plants etc. Many estates have very strong residents’ associations that ensure that every one obeys estate laws that facilitate qualitative life. They control development on the estate; control noise levels; indiscriminate parking of vehicles, safety for children of residents etc. A survey undertaken by our firm in 2018 indicated that 87 per cent of Nigerians would rather live within the confines of an estate, than just a regular residential home,” Ubosi said.

But there are complaints that most estates are sub-standard both in structures and quality of services, how can the government curb this? He responded: “The estates may indeed be sub-standard when you review how they started off. But the governments have to enforce controls and ensure that developers build, develop, or provide infrastructure and services in estates in accordance to their contractual agreements. It’s a function of concerned government officials doing their jobs well.”

Also speaking on the mushrooming of estates in the state, a lecturer in the Department of Estate Management, University of Lagos, Esther Oromidayo Thontteh, noted that most communities are metamorphosing into “estates” because of the need to secure themselves against the backdrop of rising insecurity.

She said: “If I need a house and I am to choose between an environment that is a thoroughfare and the one that its gates would be shut at night, I will settle for the latter. There is an area around Omole, where a two-bedroom apartment goes for N1.2m. But on the other side of the road, which is not gated, the same apartment goes for about N750, 000. That is the difference between a facility located in an open area and one that is located in an environment that is reasonably protected.

“What is trending now is that people want to live in an enclosed place, a community where they will have control of; where they can give suggestions about how the community can be secured. Most people feel secure staying in a community.

“Living in an estate affords one a sense of security, ensures the availability of some reliable services for a fee, and also gives confidence and aids social status too. In fact, a typical estate should have all the necessary infrastructure to enhance comfortable lifestyles for the residents,” the estate management expert stated.

She added: “You cannot come into the community and decide to put up gates at entrances and exits in a bid to restrict movement and call that an estate, as many people are doing now. The associations of landlords, especially in places that have been having issues with thieves are the ones that are championing this. These are not typical estates, even though we have so many of them around now.”


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CHUDI UBOSILagos State
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