The state government is to commence the sales of houses constructed under the Mass Housing schemes at Idu Uruan and Ikot Ekpene Mass Housing Estates.
The commissioner for Housing and Urban Renewal, Prince Enobong Uwah disclosed this during an interaction with resource persons and other stakeholders of the project in Uyo.
Prince Uwah said the decision to sell the houses which are at different stages of completion as well as others which were yet to be completed was taken in the April State Executive Council meeting as the government could no longer continue investing in those schemes because of present economic realities.
“Since 2010 till now, we are talking of six years gap; of course there will be issues of depreciation, which have been noted by government and at the same time the government will not after six years of starting a project now abandon it because of the issues involved which includes the debt owed the resource persons and other stakeholders. We all know the dwindling resources worldwide especially in this country and in this state, the government at this point because of priorities cannot in all good conscience continue to invest in these housing schemes but at the same time, government is not oblivious of the fact that there were liabilities especially to resource persons and others. So in the last executive council, after much deliberation, it was approved by the Executive Governor in Council, that the houses in Idu Uruan Housing Scheme and the Ikot Ekpene Housing Scheme to be put up for sale as it is.”
He said the sales of the houses would not just forestall further depreciation of the properties but would also enable the government pay the resource persons and other stakeholders on the project who are being owed. The commissioner explained that the sales of the houses would be carried out by a committee to be chaired by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry and would also comprise representatives from the resource persons as well as the consultants.
Prince Uwah stressed that the government would no longer wait for all the houses to be completed as initially planned, but would sell them in their present state after proper valuations have been carried out while paying the liabilities at the same time.
He however noted that for any resource person to be paid, the house he built in whatever state it is must be handed over to government. Prince Uwah assured that although due process would be followed in the sales of the properties, unnecessary bureaucracy would be eliminated to ensure prompt completion of the processes involved. He also assured the resource persons that the government would also accord them an opportunity to be able to purchase any of the houses like any other interested member of the public.
The Commissioner advised all resource persons who had rented out any of the buildings to ensure that such tenants vacate the buildings immediately as the government would not hesitate to use force to eject any defaulter. “We will be paying on vacant possession that is you return the house to government officially before you are paid. I am bringing this up because we are aware that a lot of you had gone ahead to become landlords in government property, my solemn plea is that such practice should end today please. Government has taken a decision on what will be done in those estates and I will beg that all the resource persons who had put tenants in those buildings to find a way of ejecting their tenants and handing over the properties to government.”
He noted that the office of the State Surveyor General was already delineating the plots to ensure that with the receipt of purchase, Certificates of Occupancy could easily be processed. Prince Uwah said that even after the sale of the houses, government would still work out modalities to provide basic infrastructure such as roads, electricity and portable water in the estates.
He commended the resource persons for their patience while urging them to choose credible people to represent them in the committee and sued for their cooperation to ensure the smooth implementation of the exercise.
On the Eket Senatorial District Mass Housing Scheme, the commissioner said the scheme had been handed over to an investor who had taken over all assets and liabilities. “ The Eket Housing Scheme has been overtaken by events because an investor has come in that is going to take over all the assets and liabilities, please note that- assets and liabilities, so we will concentrate on the mass housing schemes of Uyo and Ikot Ekpene Senatorial Districts”
The meeting also featured an interactive session where resource persons as well as the consultants on the project bared their minds on the decision. The Mass housing scheme for the three senatorial districts (Uyo, Ikot Ekpene and Eket) was started in 2010 to reduce housing deficit in the state and to enable low income earners have access to decent accommodation but was however stalled due to inadequate funds.