FRIDAY, 22 FEBRUARY 2013 08:58 CHUKA UROKO & JOSHUA BASSEY
The Federal Government has said that more cities will be built across the country in the next few years in recognition of their potential for economic growth.
Some of the cities, according to the government, will be built around the nation’s airports beginning with Lagos and Abuja to be built in the next three years as pilot schemes.
President Goodluck Jonathan disclosed this in his address at the ‘dedication’ ceremony of the five million square metres of land reclaimed from the sea for the development of Eko Atlantic City in Lagos.
Eko Atlantic City is an ambitious joint venture project by Lagos State government and South Energyx Nigeria Limited to develop what has been variously described as tomorrow’s Lagos and Africa’s Dubai.
The city, which will be sitting on nine million square metres of reclaimed land from the Atlantic Ocean, promises home for 250,000 residents with 150,000 others commuting to the city on daily basis. It is financed by local and international banks.
The president commended the promoters of the city, assuring them of Federal Government’s support.
“Cities are good. The Federal Government is also planning to build new cities including the Centenary City in Abuja. Also, government will be building cities around the airports beginning with Lagos and Abuja. So, in the next three years, the country will be expecting three new cities including the Eko Atlantic City”, he enthused.
In order to tackle the problem of finance in the housing sector, the president announced that the government has concluded plans to establish a Mortgage Finance Corporation (MFC) backed by the World Bank to the tune of $300 million for the purpose of funding construction and housing projects in the country.
The president also revealed that the government at the centre is working with state governments to make the process of issuance of land title documents less cumbersome to encourage investments in real estate and bridge the nation’s housing deficit.
The MFC, which according to the president, will be a public-private partnership (PPP) initiative, will be able to approach the capital market for long-term funds, and make such available to mortgage institutions and individuals to finance construction and housing projects.
“In order to solve the challenge in the housing sector, the Federal Government organised a retreat for all players in the sector. And at the retreat, several issues and recommendations were made. And one of the fallouts of the retreat is the need for a viable mortgage institution. And I am pleased to announce that we have commenced work on establishing a Mortgage Finance Corporation. This corporation will help to provide finance for the housing and construction sector”, he said.
Speaking earlier, Bill Clinton, former president of the United States of America (USA), said the Eko Atlantic project is one that holds a lot for millions of people around the world, noting that “I am convinced that five years from now, many around the world will be coming to see this great wall.”
He said the project is also strong proof about Nigeria as a 21st century country, noting that the city’s protective wall will act as a barrier against the hitherto ocean encroachment, pointing out that devastating ocean surge disasters witnessed in recent times around the world were possible because such places were not prepared.