Surveyors and valuers are not responsible for the huge housing deficit and high rent, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Lagos Branch Chairman Mr. Offiong Ukpong has said.
He was reacting to the claim of Works, Power and Housing Minister Mr. Babatunde Fashola’s that surveyors and valuers should be blamed for those problems.
Ukpong, who led a delegation to visit Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos, said surveyors and valuers were often accused of being responsible for several anti-tenancy activities, high cost of renting properties; tenants’ inability to pay rent; fixing of high rent and charging high fees.
According to him, NIESV, which ought to have been a development partner to the government, is not treated as such by relevant authorities, considering that when major decisions are taken, the body, according to him, is not represented.
“The cost of land, its preparation, taxes and levies paid are not under our control nor advice. We do not determine accommodation density nor are we involved in the design of the building, yet we shall be managing it when all others exit. We are not involved at the construction stages, neither is our advice sought on areas of cost savings or elimination of dead spaces or unnecessary facilities. Our opinion is not sought on whether the housing provision is for social housing or investment considerations,” Ukpong said.
He said often estate valuers were called at the completion of a project to do the marketing and management, sometimes, at a predetermined rent. Besides, property owners, most times, shun the advice of valuers, who are easily relieved of the job if they advise anything to the contrary.
He said in other countries, real estate development attracted 2 to 4 per cent interest rate per annum at a tenor of between 15 to 25 years.
“Is government giving mortgage? For what duration and at what rate? If rent is high what of Land Use Charge? What is the return to land as a factor of production, and should it not be competitive? Instead of any blame game, we should be thinking of synergies and partnerships rather than the neglect our profession has suffered these past years,” he said.
Meanwhile, the NIESV delegation also sought the monarch’s influence in swinging patronage for the body. Specifically, they canvassed the partnership of all stakeholders in the drive for urban renewal of Lagos Island and other areas.
“It is a fact that Lagos Island is the cradle of civilisation in Nigeria. Lagos was and is still the London of most other states in Nigeria. But if you look carefully at Lagos, perhaps with the eye of an estate surveyor and valuer, you will see that those buildings that were outstanding and impressive then have lost their steam and prestige,” he observed.
Ukpong said there were many areas due for redevelopment, including most parts of Lagos Island, Shitta, Iddo, amongst others. He expressed concern that despite that Lagos is a major town in the world, it is, however, a shame that 30 metres from its major highways, rural characteristics were still prevalent. He admonished that the multiple interests subsisting in tiny units of development or buildings can be identified, harmonised or aggregated and developed into multi-storey buildings with modern conveniences and facilities without losing the original ownership rights or interest.
On building collapse, the NIESV team noted that the multiple-storey buildings dotting the skyline of Marina and Broad Street had been in existence for many years, while several new developments across the state had collapsed. Most of the old projects were managed by estate surveyors and valuers, and none have collapsed.
“You will recall the works of Knight Frank and Rutley as he then was called, Fox and Co. and many other indigenous firms that operated then. They were involved in project conception, project management and property management, and we had more organised cities and society. But, suddenly, every other professionals in the built environment thought that what the estate surveyors and valuers know and could do can be done by them and we became known, called and addressed as estate agents and today, the buildings are collapsing, the cities are decaying and the environment is blighted,” he said.
Ukpong urged the state government to adopt the old method of construction and management, which stipulated that no building above four floors should be approved without the inclusion of a consultant estate surveyor and valuer, who knows what to do and the enormous responsibility of his profession in every project.
Besides, Ukpong said, the government should consider the establishment of the office of the Valuer-General of the Federation, and by extension, in all the states; appoint an estate surveyor and valuer as a minister and commissioner in Lagos State, and partner the professionals on urban renewal of Lagos Island and other areas of the state requiring regeneration.
He charged the government to engage members more in policy formulation and positions of responsibility as their competencies were daily getting destroyed and eroded, with the society and the people being the worst for it.
Said he: “In the Federal Executive Council today, there is no estate surveyor and valuer there. But the estate surveyor and valuer is also a land economist. Who advises the government on land matters?”
Source: The Nation