The Role of Government Agencies in Urban Housing Delivery in Lagos

Ifesanya, Kunle

There is a continuous exacerbation of environmental problems in big cities of today’s world, thereby, diminishing the quality of life in them. Of particular concern is the fact that today’s megacities are evolving in the developing world without corresponding growth in the economy, infrastructure and other human development indices. As urban population continues to grow in these cities of the Global South, governing institutions are usually unable to keep pace with their social responsibilities, thus, making the issue of urban governance very critical. This is because effective and efficient urban governance is highly essential for the creation, strengthening and sustenance of governing institutions. Lagos, a mega-city of over 15.45 million people and the most populous metropolitan area on the African continent epitomizes the fundamental grave characteristics of the emerging megacities of the Global South, thereby, constituting an apt choice in understanding the emerging megacities of the next generation. Two out of every three Lagos residents live in slums and de-humanizing physical and social conditions. Many of them sleep, work, eat and cook under highway bridges, at the mercy of weather elements. This research, therefore, evaluated urban governance through housing administration in Africa’s largest megacity. It examines the extent of housing problems in the city, the causal factors and the culpability of government agencies statutorily responsible for the provision, control and management of housing development in Lagos - the tenth largest city in the world. A representative geographic part of the city which manifests classic characteristics of slum life, listed by Mike Davis as the largest slum in Africa and the 6th largest in the world – Ajegunle - was adopted for case study. The research design combined rigorous literature search (desk research) with quantitative and, especially, qualitative approaches to data collection. The qualitative approach was more intensely adopted because government officials often respond to enquiries with ‘official answers and data’ which may not be reliable and the study had to rely on keen observation of physical traces, social interaction and personal investigation. The cross-sectional research method was adopted. Information was solicited from house-owners, building industry professionals, sociologists and officials of relevant government agencies, through research tools like questionnaires, interviews, focused group discussions and personal observations. The analysis and discussion of these field data, in conjunction with the information from the desk research gave a better understanding of the status-quo, which informed the recommendations proposed in the dissertation for mitigating the problems. The research discovered that many of the statutory housing agencies have the capacity to effectively discharge their responsibilities. However, it was also shown that corruption and abdication of responsibilities by the staff of these agencies constitute primary causes of the chasm between the anticipated lofty outcome from the laudable building regulations/bye-laws and the appalling reality. It also discovered that lack of political will and apathy on the part of successive Governments of Lagos State to the improvement of housing conditions of the poor masses are major causes of the housing debacle in Lagos. Several germane and realistic recommendations for redressing the situation were subsequently proffered. These include amongst others, the conduction of an accurate census for Lagos, in conjunction with credible international agencies, as a requisite basis for effective planning of any sort. The process of obtaining legal titles for land should also be made less cumbersome, while the housing administration process should be computerized; in order to reduce inter-personal contacts between applicants and government officials to the barest minimum, as a means of curbing the wide spread corruption in the system.


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Ifesanya, Kunle: The Role of Government Agencies in Urban Housing Delivery in Lagos. 2012.

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