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Plateau: Making housing accessible to low income earners

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Housing is one of the most critical needs of man. Realising this, the Plateau State government, in a bid to fulfill its promise to the people of the state, has put machinery in place towards ensuring that citizens and residents are motivated to work harder in contributing to the socio-economic activities and development of the state through provision of housing and other incentives, writes GOLOK NANMWA.

One of the cardinal policy objectives of the Plateau State under Governor Simon Lalong is to
ensure that incentives for ease of doing business, one of which is access to land titles are implemented in a manner that it is accessible to the masses. It is indeed working very hard towards seeing that the State One-Stop-Shop Initiative is completed so that all obstacles to doing business are removed.

Lalong also intensified it’s efforts in making land available and accessible to the poor and vulnerable through strategic partnerships with key actors in the lnds and housing sector.
He said that his adminstration has set in motion machinery for working relationship between relevant state agencies and the Federal Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to ensure that mining activities in the state are effectively monitored and the interest of the people protected.

He said in appreciation of contributions of the private sector in partnering with the state to drive the economy of the state, government will continue to place emphasis in creating more conducive and enabling environment for business to thrive. Our correspondent reports that Plateau State is blessed with huge human capital and a lovely weather.

Following the approval given by Governor Simon Lalong for new layouts to be developed, the State Ministry of Lands, Survey and Town Planning recently commenced the sales of land in the allocated areas.

The State Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Town Planning, Yakubu Dati undertook a tour of the layouts which include 24 plots of land in Dong (Jos North), Tewo-Tebo (Bassa), Kwang and Waduruk, Shen (Jos South) and recently noted the gesture is not only making landed property available to citizens without difficulty but ensures an organised city as well as accrue revenue to the State government and called on investors and cooperatives to indicate interest and key into the opportunity.

His words, “The intension of government is to create modern/smart cities and this comes with planning. That is why we started the new layouts, and His Excellency, Governor Simon Lalong, has approved seven new layouts. Five of those layouts are for residential while two are for industrial. The whole idea is to have a planned city such that as the city grows it doesn’t become an urban slum. That is why the planning is necessary.

“We intended to initially fund the layouts, but due to cash constraints and also due to the fact that we need to raise our funding we went into partnership with some serious investors. The whole idea is to make land available to the people with certificate of occupancy. If anyone buys a land, that person is assured of certificate of occupancy.

“Besides, the layouts are areas with assess roads, water, electricity, essential services, recreation places and other needs of modern estates. We are ensuring all that and we are happy that following the work of the committee, we are happy to flag off sales of lands in the layouts. We have some layouts in Rayfield, Miango Road, Zaria Road, among other places. We are also calling on investors to key into this new layout project which is meant to change the face of our city and our children will inherit a standard city.”

The sales ranges in prizes depending on the locations, and the Commissioner assured that there is also the possibility of staggering the payment for those meaning to pay in installment.

A citizen of Jos Jerry Nantok ,lauded the efforts of Dati in revamping the sector stressing that he is doing excellently well in the Ministry since he came on board. Also speaking recently while unveiling the publication of fees at the state Ministry of Lands in Jos the state capital , Yakubu Dati said the state Governor Lalong is determined to improve the “Ease of doing business in Plateau State.

He said that the unveiling is also in pursuant of promoting transparency in its operations in line with the Medium Term Sector Strategy (MTSS) as encapsulated in The Plateau State Strategic Plan. In his words “The unveiling ceremony is part of the ongoing reforms in the ministry to overcome the bottlenecks that had persistently crippled the revenue generation capacity of the ministry in the past.

He said that clients and stakeholders can assess fees and charges at their fingertips in a transparent manner thereby eliminating middlemen who scare away investors with dubious and outrageous charges.

“We have also been able eradicate cash transactions completely through collaboration with the Plateau State Internal Revenue Service who have provided the needed infrastructure and personnel. Our task force on Internally Generated Revenue has been reinvigorated to focus on the largest source of untapped revenue, ground rents”, he said.

These strategies are being driven by a committed corp of competent staff who are gradually but surely adapting to new technology and change of attitudes. This is evident in our growing revenue and improved services. Dati said Inspite of the disruptive effect of COVID-19 pandemic the ministry has generated One Hundred and Sixty Five Million, Four Hundred and Twenty Seven Thousand, Eight Hundred and Ninety Seven naira, Ninety Kobo between January to August 2020.

“In the same period, a total of 455 Certificates of Occupancy (C of Os) and 581 Rights of Occupancy (R ofOs) along with several title deeds have been processed. Following the return of relative peace under the Simon Lalong-led administration, our towns and cities are urbani-ing at an incredibly fast pace and, in many cases, with unplanned settlements that pose enormous challenges.

He said that the state government has entered into Public Private Partnerships (PPP) with land developers including Vanac Estates Ltd, Guya Nigeria Ltd, Clearview security Ltd, etc, which has enabled them to create layouts in designated locations in Rayfield, Miango Low-cost, Zaria Road, Bauchi Road and environs under the Greater Jos Masterplan.

“We are also developing layouts in Barkin Ladi, Mangu, Pankshin, Langtang, Shendam through our zonal offices. The package offers ownership of choice landed property with Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) in a single transaction. ”

The Ministry is also pursuing Governor Simon Lalong’s policy of making land available and accessible to the poor and vulnerable through strategic partnerships with key drivers amongst which are the GIZ, Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal Mortgage Bank, Fidelity Bank, Federal Ministry of Housing and sister ministries in the provision of lands for Agriculture, Minning, Tourism, Commerce and Industry in line with the Plateau State Strategic plan.

Dati said “We must appreciate Governor Simon Lalong for the foresight to inject huge capital into the automation of the Plateau State Geographic Information System (PLAGIS) which has improved our performance. With the coming of this administration in 2015, The governor has boosted the business community especially the SMEs with the approval of One Thousand, Four Hundred and Eighty (1,480) Certificates of Occupancy (C of Os) and a total of Three Thousand, Five Hundred and Fifty Eight (3,558) Rights of Occupancy (R of Os).

He said that Several Devolution orders deeds, Deeds of Assignment and other instruments have been approved. “The agony of abandoned applications stretching several years is being replaced with a new dawn of processed land tiles being issued in few weeks after application.” Currently, the Ministry is fine tuning processing time from 180 days to 45 days.

It could be recalled that Governor Lalong recently commenced its Post-COVID-19 economic recovery plan with the reacquisition of the Brewery Agro Research Company (BARC) Farms in Zallaki Village in Bassa Local Government Area of the state which was sold off in the 1990s .

To begin the process of making the farm functional, Lalong and members of his cabinet visited the farm recently to flag off the allocation of 1,000 hectares to members of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), interested civil servants, pensioners, political office holders and members of the host community under a temporary arrangement.

The governor, in a statement by his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Makut Macham, said the re-acquisition of BARC Farms was a very bold step to create jobs by reviving commercial agriculture which the farm was reputed for. He said, “In its days of glory, the farm was into cultivation of dry and irrigated crops such as grain, vegetable and tree crops; cattle ranches; poultry farms with parent and hatchery units; piggery; abattoir for poultry, pigs and cattle; as well as operated a big dam for fishery.

”He expressed hope that at the long run, the Farm which has potential for occupying over 30% to 40% share of the Agro-allied market in Nigeria, will leverage on its existing structures to cultivate crops that the State has comparative advantage in”, he stated.

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