Professionals urge caution as Lagos declares 65 buildings abandoned, distressed

 

 Savannah Bank along Broad Street, Lagos

Savannah Bank along Broad Street, Lagos

Owners of the 65 buildings either classified as abandoned or distressed in Lagos have been given ultimatum over the properties, but professionals are urging the state government to ensure its claim is verified by relevant professionals

On the heels of labeling 65 buildings distressed and abandoned, professionals in the real estate industry have called for caution, urging the State government to follow due process and involve independent experts.

The involvement of private professionals would help the state government to do detailed and unbiased analysis of the identified properties, a concerned real estate professional said.

According to the state in a recent public notice in a national daily, not The Guardian, the state government said the notice was part of the measures to reduce cases of building collapse in the state among other reasons.

The two-page notice, issued by the Lagos State Government, Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA), and signed by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mrs. B.A. Dapo reads in part: “The attention of the Lagos State Government has been drawn to the growing number of abandoned, distressed and uncompleted buildings/structures in the State which continue to constitute environmental hazard and pose serious threat to security, lives and property, the contravention to the Lagos State Physical Planning and Urban Development, urban Regeneration and Building control Law, 2016.

“In order to checkmate the malaise of building collapse as well as to ensure safety and security of residents by riding the State of buildings and structures which harbor hoodlums, miscreants and reptiles, the Ministry of Physical Planning & Urban Development has identified and compiled the under listed abandoned, distressed and uncompleted properties for necessary remedial action by the Owners/Developers;

“In view of the foregoing, Owners/Developers of such and similar structures State wide are hereby given 90 days notice from the date of this publication to take physical possession to ensure that such properties are completed or restored and fit for habitation.

“To this end, Onwers/Developers are hereby advised to report within the stipulated period to the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) at Oba Akinjobi Way, Old Secretariat, GRA, Ikeja, with proof of ownership for further guidelines on renovation or completion of their properties towards issuance of Certificate of Completion.
“Please note that failure to comply would result in the enforcement of the relevant provisions of the law.”

Some of the buildings identified as abandoned are 296, Wharf Road, By Kofo Abayomi Street, Apapa; 5,7 and 9, Abiola Johnson, Apapa; 3, Warehouse Road, Apapa; 1, Alhaji Moshood Tijani Street/7, Randle Road, Apapa; 9, Liverpool Road/Water Works Way GRA, Apapa; Lasaco House structure at the corner of Kakawa/Tinubu Street, Lagos Island, Lagos and along Admiralty Road, opposite Skye Bank, Beside Me-cure, Lekki Scheme 1, Lagos.

LASACO House on Kakawa/Tinubu Street, Lagos

LASACO House on Kakawa/Tinubu Street, Lagos

Classified as abandoned and distressed are 7, Onikoyi Road/Turnbull Road, Ikoyi; 3, Milverton Road, Ikoyi; Along Herbert Macaulay Way, Casino Bus Stop, Yaba, Lagos; Oloto Street, Ebute Metta East, Lagos; Majaro Street, Onike, Yaba, Lagos; a three storey building at Olajide Street, off Bakare Itire, Mushin among others.

Reacting to the publication last week in Lagos, President, Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers (NIStrcutE), Mr. Ore Fadayomi, said although he knows that the state has in-house professionals, who would have undertaken such assignment, but advised that there is need for proper and detail analysis of these properties.

“The first thing the state should do to be ensure that its claim of distressed is correct. If for instance, you tell me that my building is distressed, I will seek for a proof.”

Besides, Fadayomi added that the state should consult with professionals to inspect such structures to confirm government’s claim. This is necessary because some distressed buildings are redeemable while some are not.

According to him, each of those that have identified should be treated on its merits, as remedial work for each distressed building may be different depending the situation.

“The government needs to look at them again and analyse what the problem is. Then, the owners should be properly advised on what to do.”

Past president, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Alhaji Waheed Kadiri though admitted he was yet to see the law guiding the decision of government, he, noted however that, government must properly define what abandonment is.

“Does it mean that owners of the affected properties are no longer interest in them and walk away divesting their interest from the properties? Was the owners’ attentions drawn to the identified infractions and what are their responses? These are should first be established.

The NITP chief asked if there are similar projects outside the publicized ones that meet similar criteria and what is government’s action? What is the term of approvals given? Is there any time frame by which the project must be considered abandoned?

Kadiri cited an ongoing housing project at Ilubinrin, belonging to Lagos government and which work seems to have stopped, querying whether it is right to consider such as abandoned project?

“In my considered opinion, the law cannot preclude government’s property from treatment meted to privately owned properties. Although, I learnt that LASACO House was involved”.

Notwithstanding, an official who crave for anonymity told The Guardian that government is acting within the confines of law.
On the commercial implication of these buildings, Chairman, Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria, Mr. William Odudu said if these properties termed abandoned or distressed have been completed, they will add to the stock of either commercial or residential properties in the market. But the continued disuse of these properties, will also have adverse effects on the stocks of available properties in the market. If there is an inflow, it is bound to affect the rent downward.

While saying that some of them become public danger like collapsing, inhabiting miscreants, which ultimately is a threat to the society, he, called on the state, to take action either by encouraging the owners to complete the buildings, where they have run out of funds, or find a way to get them disposed so that new owners will take them over and complete the project.

However, Odudu said there is need for structural survey to be conducted on property abandoned for a long time to ascertain whether in the present state of these buildings they can completed or not.

But one of those whose building was among classified abandoned, Lasaco Insurance said the publication came to them as a shock as the state has informed it of any findings.

Senior officials of Lasaco Properties, a subsidiary of Lasaco Insurance, when contacted by The Guardian refuted the claims of the government that the property was distressed.“The property is not distressed, we are only yet to secure the best deal that will be in conformity with the investment. “

In fact, we were surprised to see the publication because the project was never abandoned. We still visit the site. We have received a lot of proposals but the board has not yet taken a decision to sell to any of them. Discussions are still going on,” they said.

However, neither the CEO nor his staff would explain why the property was put up for sale in the first place.



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