Real Estate, And Provision Of Infrastructure By The State - How Equitable?

Written by  Propertygate Published in Editorial Thursday, 08 December 2011 16:38
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The quality of living is strongly influenced by the environment a person resides in. In assessing quality living, standard of housing and supporting infrastructure are major issues for consideration. For this reason, real estate located in areas with functional and reasonably adequate infrastructure that support stress-free everyday living not onl attract high demand, but in addition, commands good value. This explains the attraction for places like Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Ikeja G.R.A, Opebi, Ilupeju and part of Lekki Peninsula among other sought-after locations in Lagos. Similar benefit accrues to comparable places in other parts of the country. These areas continue to enjoy significantly impressive capital and rental value, as pressure on them continues to mount due to increased demand.

It is public knowledge that our successive government at various levels continue to fail in meeting people’s expectations in the provision of basic infrastructure across the country. It is therefore not a surprise that living quality is generally poor. The inequitable trend that has been observed however over the years till date is that whenever government endeavor to provide / improve public infrastructure, their bias is overwhelmingly in favor of high brow neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are far well off in terms of road transportation, power, water, access to commercial centres among others. This discriminatory treatment heightens demand for these areas, making them very valuable, while the rest of the society (substantial majority) are left to deal with non-existent or badly declining infrastructure.

 

This approach, in our view, is very unfair. Public fund belonging to all citizens are deployed to benefit few areas at the expense of the majority. Furthermore, there is no evidence to show that those living in these prime havens are more forthright in their tax obligation than the rest of the society. In fact, employees in government sectors and few organizations that treasure compliance (most living outside these havens) generally pay their taxes, as their employers deducted from source. Most of the rich who live in these havens make informal income and generally do not pay correct taxes, if they pay at all. In addition, by this discriminatory development approach, the real estate valuein these havens enjoys handsome growth, while the value of majority of real estate in areas characterized by difficult access, porous security and other ills continue to be eroded.

There are quite a number of adverse implications for this inequitable approach. Undue pressure on few areas with good infrastructure leads to high real estate pricing in those locations, thus creating distorted land value. Extreme variation in overall built environment emerges, as sharp distinctions are seen among neighborhoods. Social inefficiencies further emerge, leading to poor health, loss of value, depopulation of quality residents in failing areas, and social vices. Corruption is encouraged, as people become desperate to live in these quality havens at all cost, to escape the hardship of most areas.

We hope those in authorities will see the above interrelationships, and the social injustice in the current approach. Provision of infrastructure to support standard living is a basic duty owed every citizen and not just a few by the state.

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