Estate developers cringe when consultants lay out bill of quantities for the construction of infrastructure in their estates. These are facilities developers put in place before prospective home owners take possession, particularly in a site and service scheme. The promoter of Jubilation Bethel Estate, Lokogoma, Abuja had other arrangements, which the landlords now find distasteful, writes Bennett Oghifo
A housing estate derives its character from the quality of its infrastructure like roads, drains, water supply, electricity and more importantly, security system. These are basic needs that come with huge price tags.
Regardless, some developers raise the bar by including recreational facilities like swimming pool, tennis courts and other play areas.
Residents of Jubilation Bethel Estate, Lokogoma, Abuja, say they are not asking for too much, not the top range infrastructure. They need roads, perimeter fence to prevent hoodlums from invading their privacy, water and electricity from the public mains.
These landlords said after four years, they are still without these basic needs even after they paid extra money to the developer of the estate, Integax Resourcery Limited.
Landlords resolve to sue…
The landlords have threatened to file legal action against the company “for serial breach of agreements on the provision of infrastructure in the estate.” The residents said therefore, that after several meetings as well as exchange of letters between them and the developer from May, 2011 to October this year on the matter to no avail, they had finally resolved to challenge Integax in court.
The residents, under the aegis of the Jubilation Bethel Estate Residents’ Association (JBERA), said they were compelled to consider the judicial option following Integax’s failure to respect an agreement it reached with them four years ago, on provision of infrastructure in the estate.
A statement jointly signed by Michael Ibeh and Mayowa Ojo, Chairman and Secretary General respectively, said, “Development at the estate started since December, 2008 but to date, the roads within it have not been tarred, no drainages have been constructed, and no street lights have been deployed to enhance safety of residents.
“To worsen matters, Integax Resourcery Limited has not deemed it necessary to fence the estate, thereby exposing many residents to the vagaries of hoodlums and other encroachers into their residences.”
The JBERA said further that the developer brazenly refused to provide these basic facilities even after allegedly “collecting N86,570,000 from residents, amounting to 69 per cent of the total money payable to him for provision of infrastructure in the estate.”
They alleged that “Integax had collected N500,000 from each developer of a 3-bedroom semi-detached bungalow and N1 million from developers of duplexes as well as fully detached bungalows. What he collected amounted to over N86 million. Yet, we have nothing to show as far as infrastructure is concerned in the estate.”
The Bethel Estate residents maintained that the little excavation work on the drainages that the developer did, and the partial fencing of the estate “are not in any way commensurate with 50 per cent of the total amount he has so far collected as infrastructure fees from residents.”
The association said, “Integax’s glaring lackluster attitude in provision of infrastructure in the Jubilation Bethel Estate in Lokogoma has been largely responsible for the reluctance of some other residents to move into their completed houses in the estate.”
Explaining the issues at stake, Ibeh said from the commissioning of the estate, the developer allegedly “devised a scheme to collect money from us. We expected him to put infrastructure on ground such as the roads, drains, light, among others but he did not do any of these even when we mounted pressure on him.”
He said unlike theirs, most of the estates around them had basic infrastructure. “In 2011, he told us he did not have money for infrastructure and that the commitment fee that we paid was a different fee from that of infrastructure. So, most of us decided to pay immediately for infrastructure but so far he has not completed the infrastructure since that time to date.”
Ibeh said at their last meeting recently, the developer said he did not have money to build the infrastructure and “we reminded him that we already gave him money for the infrastructure but he told us he used the money for other arrangements, which was outside our agreement.”
He said it was obvious that the developer was not going to build the infrastructure without being compelled, which was the reason they resolved to sue him.
He said, “Since 2008 we have been dialoguing and we have come to realise that he is just buying time.”
Ibeh said land was cheap at Lokogoma when they bought from the developer, explaining that “in 2008, people were desperate to build their homes and the estate land was over-priced even at that time. So, we expected him to spend some of the money to build infrastructure, which is basic, before he starts selling because it is a site and services scheme,” where developers prepare the plots and build infrastructure before selling to prospective land buyers, who then build.
Regardless, he said the developer made feeble attempts to electrify the estate but that the transformer he provided was too small to power the whole estate.
He said they had to task themselves to provide security in the estate. “We bought razor (barb) wires with which we fenced part of the estate. “
The developer, Mr. Samuel Oladokun, said his company and the landlords were in talks to resolve the issues. Oladokun, an Architect, said: “We do not have issues with our landlords in Bethel Estate that we are not mutually working to resolve. The company and its patrons have good understanding of the challenges of the moment and the roles of each party in creating a good living environment.”