Subscribers lament abandonment of Abia housing project.
More than 12 years after construction work commenced on the Unity Garden Housing Estate in Osisioma, Abia State, depositors have shown their displeasure over the non-completion of the project.
According to some of the depositors, who spoke with our correspondent, snakes, rats, cockroaches and other crawling animals as well as illegal tenants have taken over the estate despite the huge amounts that the subscribers parted with.
One of the subscribers, Mr. Matthew Evans, told The PUNCH that he made a deposit of N2.2m for a four-bedroomed bungalow of N4.5m since 2003 and that he had yet to move into his house.
Evans said other depositors also paid a minimum of 20 per cent of the actual cost of the buildings to the Abia State Housing Corporation.
Another subscriber, Ifeanyi Okonkwor, said the project was started and abandoned between 2003 and 2004.
According to him, some of the subscribers began agitating for space in the abandoned estate after several years of waiting for either a refund or any other positive development.
Mrs. Maria Okechukwu, who said she had deposited over N1m for a three-bedroomed house, said she had since adopted a ‘watch and wait’ attitude towards the project, having waited endlessly for several years for any positive news from the project coordinators.
Evans stated that after many years of inaction, allocation letters for incomplete buildings were later given to some depositors without any infrastructure provided in the estate.
According to him, some of the subscribers opted to live in the estate without the promised and basic infrastructure.
Investigations revealed that the estate, with three and four-bedroomed housing types, was planned to take off with 180 housing units, but was later increased to about 261 units. The N550m project was between the Abia State Housing Corporation, Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria and Union Homes Savings and Loans Plc, a subsidiary of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc.
The houses are currently in different stages of completion with subscribers grumbling as their funds are trapped in the project.
It was gathered that the arrangement was for the FMBN to disburse the fund for the construction of the estate at once, but it was later divided into three tranches.
While the first tranche was given, there could not be a follow up with the other tranches as it was gathered that the then government of Abia State needed to work on and complete the infrastructure of the estate, which was not done.
“The infrastructure was supposed to go hand in hand with the construction of houses in the estate but it was not done. It took the bank seven years to come up with the second tranche by which time inflation had risen; the money was not adequate for the number of proposed housing units,” an anonymous source told our correspondent.
“It took a long time after that to give the last tranche, which put the project off track and the houses got stuck. At a point, Union Homes put a caveat on the estate, demanding that the ABHC should repay the loan, but it wasn’t possible to do that because the houses were not completed and the subscribers couldn’t pay up fully,” the source added.
Although efforts to get the state government’s position on the issue proved abortive, a source conversant with the matter but who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, however, told our correspondent that the government planned to dialogue with the subscribers as it had taken interest in the project.
The source added, “The government is dialoguing with the subscribers; very soon, we are going to come up with a solution. The current government is interested in the project; there is no hidden agenda about the project.
“The state government is doing something about it; very soon, everything will be sorted out. The estate can pay off its own debt actually, even at its current condition, and that is what we are considering.”
According to the source, the houses will be given out at the stages they are in now.
“Subscribers should hang on for a little while, people who made some deposits are already aware and are waiting for us to give them the go ahead,” the source added.
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