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Fashola Outlines FG’s Plans To Achieve Sustainable Housing Programme

by June 27, 2016 General

The Federal Government has given an insight into how it plans to achieve a sustainable housing programme for the country ahead of the Affordable Housing Summit which opens today in Abuja.

It said it is only through standardisation of designs, while taking into cognisance the cultural preferences of the nation’s geopolitical zones that industrialisation and mass housing can be possible.

Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, who stated this when he met with National Assembly Committee on Housing to present the Implementation Plan of the 2016 budget as it concerns the National Housing Programme at the weekend, said although “there could be the desire out there that government should rush out and do what everybody has done in the past, and probably end up with the same old results, the focus of the present administration was more on a sustainable housing plan.”

Fielding questions from members of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Housing, Fashola, who said the little over N30 billion allocated to housing in the 2016 budget would not solve the nation’s housing problem, added that government was desirous of delivering a plan that would work beyond its tenure.

The minister, who cited two housing models, Singapore Housing Development Programme and the United Kingdom Housing Scheme, to explain the need for sustainability, said while the UK model started in 1918 and the Singaporean model in 1960, one common factor in those countries was “a near uniformity of design” when one looked outside, adding, “In whatever community that they build, as designs vary, they remain the same within one community”.

According to the minister, Singapore, a country of about three million people, though they have implemented their housing design, an almost uniform design, successfully since 1960 till now, as at 2013 and 2014, over 80 percent of the people had become home owners with the rest still accommodated under the rental scheme. “So they don’t even have a 100 percent house ownership,” he noted.

For the United Kingdom, whose housing programme, he said, started almost 100 years ago, only about 64 percent of about 56 million people in the United Kingdom, England and Wales, have been accommodated as home owners under the housing programme while others were still accommodated under the rental schemes.

Citing Lagos State as an example of where housing was given higher allocation, the minister said, “Yes there is a temptation to implement a 2016 budget but, truth be told, how much is the 2016 budget? A little over N30 billion; it is not going to solve our housing problem. The budget for housing for my state in 2015 was in excess of N40 billion and it hasn’t solved all the problems in housing in that state”.

“So, it is not just about implementing a budget; when we get to full scale clearly we will not be talking of N35 billion; we will be talking of hundreds of billions and trillions to keep the value chain going because it is an extensive value chain”,  Fashola said.

In terms of design, Fashola explained that the potential that government started with was possible 480 designs, “different designs, with different sizes of windows, different sizes of doors, different sizes of tiles”, pointing out that they were not the basis to achieve what the administration wanted to achieve, which, according to him, are “employment sustainability and driving industrialisation”.

Commending the Technical Department of the Ministry which articulated the designs and reduced them to manageable numbers, Fashola explained that the way to drive industrialisation was standardisation and mass production, adding that where the windows, tiles and other housing accessories were different, standardisation would be impossible.

“So this department, in my view, deserves commendation for reducing a potential 480 designs a year, which can be over 1,000 over four years, to 12 designs which we now have and which we want to reduce further to about six in a way that it responds to the broad cultural challenges of our country”, he said.

Explaining further the importance of the cultural basis for the National Housing programme, the minister told the committee, “Some of the feedbacks that we found, because the basis for cultural design first is consultation, you don’t just sit down and design and say go and give them, is that some of the buildings built for the IDPs, they refused to live there. It was a cultural shock for them. They were transiting from what they were used to into what they were not used to, so they stayed outside”.