Lagos threatens ‘illegal’ housing estates, urges layouts’ regularisation

There are fears among residents and owners of about 105 housing estates in Lagos following the States’ Government position that the affected properties were developed without building layout approvals from the authorities. Government has therefore insisted that concerned estates’ developers must immediately formalise their estate’s layout approvals.

The Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development had sent jitters down the spines of the owners following the announcement last week. Government had declared that in its quest for a functional, orderly, well-organised and resilient smart city. The government had said that it was determined to curb unauthorised developments and deviation from approved plans to check the proliferation of slums and the attendant environmental degradation in Lagos areas.

According to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Foluso Dipe, an architect, the ministry is empowered by law to process and grant layout approvals to estates and regulate the development of public and private estates in Lagos state, among other statutory functions.

It stated that the 105 estates do not have layout approvals of the State Government for their estates’ development in accordance with the provision of the Lagos State Government Notice No.6 of 1983 on guidelines for approval of layouts.

The ministry directed that owners of the estates and others without layout approvals are directed to submit necessary documents to the ministry not later than 21 days from February 17, 2020. Government warned that estates that failed to comply would be sealed up in accordance with the provision of the relevant law.

Overtime, Lagos State has become notorious for estate developments being the commercial hub of the nation, host to the largest number of built professionals and an epicenter for construction activities in Nigeria, and Africa.

Speaking with The Guardian in an interview on the development, the Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr Idris Salako, reiterated that the concerned developers must approach the ministry to tidy up and regularise their layout approvals for their facilities.

“If they failed to do the needful government will seal up their premises until they can produce the relevant approvals”.
According to him, the process to get the layout approvals to include, getting a consultant to prepare their layout plan and submit at the ministry while the government will look at it and advise appropriately.

The Commissioner said, “That is the first thing. They should get their surveyor plan, do their topographical map and with their titles to the land in place, do a soil test and then apply to the ministry through the office of the Commissioner for layout approval”.

Reacting to why the developers shun the process in the first place despite its importance as a precondition for estate development, he explains, “Am not a developer but you know in everything, people would rather prefer to go through the shortcut instead of doing the right thing. Some people are fond of doing the wrong things and so I wouldn’t know why they shun it. But the issue is, they haven’t done the needful and government would get back at them.”

He declared that the estates constitute illegal developments as far as the State Government was concerned.
Salako said, “They are more than 105 but those are the ones we have captured for now. Imagine 105 estates without approvals-are we saying they don’t pay tax and other necessary bills to Government yet they are enjoying the infrastructures put in place by the Government. You could imagine the extent of pressure they put on the infrastructures in the State especially road, electricity, and others.”

Responding to The Guardian’s query as to why it took the Ministry so long to put up the notice, he said, this is not the first time the Ministry is taking such move on developers in the State.

“We have always been doing this and this is just one of the processes. Last December, the Ministry sealed up several Estates along the Lekki axis for the same offence and so it is just one out of many processes aimed at making people comply with the relevant laws of the State”, he stated.

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