Stories by Maduka Nweke
Mr. Linus Nwokoye, an estate surveyor, has said the housing deficit in Lagos will continue to increase despite efforts by private developers to flood the city with mini- estates because the housing supply in the state is not commensurate with the demand.
Nwokoye said that buildings in residential areas of Lagos are being converted into offices and business premises against the state government’s building approvals and environmental protection laws.
He said, “Apart from the environmental impact of turning a residential area into a commercial enclave, converting buildings meant for residence has enormous implications for Lagos whose major social problem is housing accommodation for its residents.
“It is estimated that 80 percent of Lagos residents live in rented accommodation, spending about 50 percent of their income on house rents. This is to be expected in a sprawling city sitting on a small land mass with an over-arching population that is well above 18 million. The state has a housing demand-supply gap estimated at three million, requiring about 200,000 houses to be built annually to close.
“These are the sources of concerns raised by officials of the state government who warned those involved in the indiscriminate conversion of buildings to desist from such. The conversion is no respecter of locations as it happens on the island as much as it does on the mainland,”he stated.
He noted that places like Ikoyi, Lekki and Victoria Island on the island have witnessed this almost on equal measure with places on the mainland including Ikeja GRA, Surulere, Ilupeju, Apapa, etc. Commercial activities in these locations have degraded the environment considerably.
“Property conversion is contributing to increase in refuse generation as well as the attendant illegal dumping of refuse in unauthorised places”, Babatunde Durosinmi-Etti, the state commissioner for the Environment, noted at a stakeholders’ meeting with Victoria Island and Ikoyi Resident Association (VIIRA) in Victoria Island.
The Commissioner explained that the development was illegal and capable of causing grave danger to the community, urging Victoria Island and Ikoyi residents to prioritize clean environment by being observant and protective of their immediate environment.
Government is against this conversion because it goes against approved master plan for the areas and also frustrates the commitment of the government to attain a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
Durosinmi-Etti stressed that the state government had repeatedly warned against any abuse of its laws and all acts capable of compounding the challenge of waste management in the state. He also noted the proliferation of religious worship centres and Nite clubs in various residential areas in the Victoria Island and Ikoyi axis, and called for caution on the noise level to avoid rancour in the society.
“Any noise above the approved noise levels contravenes the provisions of the National Environmental Noise Standard and Controls Regulations 2009 as well as the Lagos State Environmental Laws 2017”, he said, seeking the cooperation of religious centres and club owners for the maintenance of the acceptable noise levels for residential areas, which is 55 decibels during the day and 45 decibels at night.
VIIRA thanked the state government for its support in ensuring that the Victoria Island and Ikoyi Environment remained cleaner, healthier and safer, pledging that his association would spur members of his community to cooperate with the government to stop all acts capable of degrading the environment.