Samuel Bello

Abuja, the nation’s capital, has for long been reputed as a city with many uncompleted and or completed but unoccupied houses. From Maitama, Asokoro and Lugbe to Apo among others, there are high proliferation of houses and estates, yet in accordance with Biblical saying, the sons and daughters of men have nowhere to lay their heads.

Despite the number of houses and estates, residents have continued to groan under the weight of high house rents and exorbitant, unaffordable accommodation without any hope in sight.

The harsh economic realities in the country and their effects on rents and the general standard of living have drastically affected the residents, resulting in many deciding to find shelter at many of the completed but unaffordable unoccupied buildings and the even the uncompleted ones.

A recent survey revealed that many residents of Abuja suburbs have also forced themselves to move into their houses without completion. The decision to reside in the uncompleted buildings comes with financial implications as many of them pay through their noses on monthly and annual basis to remain at the city centres.

While some pay to private security guards taking charge of the compound as much as N15,000 monthly, many other desperate tenants were extorted by the landlords to the tune of N35,000 to N50,000 annually.

Housing deficit is gradually growing into a national issue and this calls for serious and immediate attention. Investigations revealed that the occupants of the uncompleted buildings are also at the mercies of surveyors or supervisors after succumbing to the threat to unleash law enforcement officers on them.

In fact, many of the residents have been moving from one uncompleted space to the other to avoid harassment from these shylock individuals.

The trend may not be new, but it has taken a worrisome dimension lately. A roadside trader in Maitama, Nonye Anyaele, confirmed in a chat with Daily Sun that: “There are several uncompleted buildings in this area occupied by young people and even families.

“If you check Maitama very well, you will notice that there are trees everywhere especially on the roads and even in the streets. It is not a business area that is busy and bubbling like Wuse, Wuse 2 and the likes. Maitama is filled with houses, both the unoccupied completed houses and the uncompleted.

“The empty completed ones would either be permanently locked or have a security guard that keeps watch of everything that concerns the house. The uncompleted ones on the other hand at a point, even with someone keeping watch, would witness invasion of reptiles.”

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She claimed that apart from Maitama, landlords of uncompleted buildings in Asokoro, Wuse, Utako, Garki, Jabi and Central Business Districts, rent out rooms without window, door covers and without restrooms to low and average income earners for an amount ranging from N35,000 to N50,000 annually:

“The occupants are mostly people who supply Abuja city with different menial services. Other people facing poor living conditions are mostly government officials and retired civil servants.

“I have seen more than 10 families, some who I know are civil servants and working in ministries. They have been living inside their uncompleted buildings in Maitama for years. Most things they do are indoor because the building has not even been fenced.”

For young men and ladies, living at Abuja uncompleted building comes with challenges. They have on several instances been exposed to cases of rape, armed robbery, illegal activities and crimes and criminalities. Due to the harsh economic situation, these youths even rent uncompleted buildings that definitely lack basic amenities.

Left with no option, the occupants usually practice open defecation, battle other hostilities of life in their determination to make ends meet. Cosmos, an occupant of an uncompleted told Daily Sun: “Cold, insects, snakes, mosquitos are our major problems and living in an uncompleted building with bush around it, I am not surprised. I always have to wash my bed sheets as often as possible because of bed bugs.

“I don’t have a mosquito net and with this rainy season, sometimes I have to drag my bed from one side to the other because of the direction the wind is blowing the rain. I use poly bags on my windows but it is not been strong enough to hold the wind and constant rain. It rained so much one day that I had to look for planks to nail together to fill up the window space. It is not so firm but I will work on it. It’s a small challenge.

“Cultists and robbers have raided my area too many times. I have just been lucky that they didn’t choose my place as their hideout. I have heard series of cases but I have not encountered anything. I pay N50,000 for a year to the owner of the house, sometimes I pay N30,000 and they always understand. I believe God has plans for me and I will leave this place very soon by God’s grace.”

A daughter of a retired civil servant, who did not want her name in print, said: “My dad served this country faithfully and with integrity for 20 years. When he retired, I felt his pension and gratuity would be paid, but instead it was not and it affected him. He was not able to complete his six-bedroom duplex in Mararaba and had to move in because we could not afford rent anymore in Asokoro.

“Our condition of living presently is a threat to both security of lives and property because this is a very exposed way of living. It is a poor living condition. We don’t have doors or windows we just use planks to cover where we can cover.

“If a guy is going to drop me at my house, he will have to drop me far from the building. I will say don’t worry I will just stroll. It is a sad lie because I will still engage a cyclist. How will you feel in my shoes, when I know you can’t help me, you can’t fund anything in my life, there’s no need to blab about myself or give you opportunity to know so much about me.

“It’s quite embarrassing, but I have plans to complete the house for my parents, even if it’s just one or two properly furnished and comfortable rooms. Nobody in his right frame of mind who has an uncompleted building would want to still pay rent.”