The distribution of house lots has reduced significantly since the change of Government in 2015 despite the fact that the demand has not decreased. This is evident in the 2017 Annual Report of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) which was recently laid in the National Assembly.
The report shows that a total of only 1131 house lots were allocated in that year for qualified applicants. In fact, the report states that the original target of allocations for that year was merely 1000.
This does not compare favourably with the previous year, which according to the report, 2020 house lots were allocated in 2016, an improvement on its original target of 1100. This includes 625 low to moderate income house lots and 1395 middle to high-income house lots.
But both of these years’ figures pale in comparison to the number of house lots distributed in previous years under the former People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Administration. In the CH&PA’s 2013 annual report, its programme performance assessment had indicated that 4417 house lots were allocated, just shy of the 5900 target.
In the area of conveyance of transports and titles, the authority was able to achieve its targets for successive years. The report shows that in 2017, 2076 titles were processed and 3498 were distributed. A target of 2000 was set for both activities. It is, however, a reduction from 2016, when 2212 titles were processed and 4874 allocated.
Again, however, 2017’s figures are unable to stand up to CH&PA’s performance under the former Administration. In 2013, the PPP planned to process 5000 titles and exceeded that target to process 5326 titles. In addition, it distributed 3643 titles that year.
The backlog of applicants waiting for a house lot has been a consistent problem that CH&PA has been faced with. Last year, CH&PA had announced that nine new housing areas would be developed in 2019.
But the house lots being distributed are in stark contrast to times when in excess of 4000 house lots were once distributed by the authority, when former Housing Minister, Irfaan Ali was at the helm.
Under the previous Administration, over 100,000 house lots were distributed and over 200 core houses were made available to underprivileged families, while a programme for professional groups provided 200 teachers, nurses and Policemen with fast-track access to loans for home construction.
There is also the 1000 Homes Project that was launched in June of 2013 by the CH&PA to expand the Ministry’s Turn-Key Houses programme that recommenced in 2011.
Construction began in May of 2014 and by December of 2014, one hundred Buttercup Cottages were completed. Apart from the houses themselves, this project provided employment opportunities for over 300 skilled and semi-skilled workers in the construction industry.
Now, it is understood that there are approximately 25,000 applications still piled up at the CH&PA’s office.
In an interview earlier this year, the agency’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Lelon Saul had said that at least 5000 solutions are required annually for the next five years to reduce the backlog.
While this may be the case, the CEO told the media that just about 3000 housing solutions were made over the past two years in the form of houses and house lots. According to him, the agency plans to develop a number of areas soon to tackle the backlog; however, undertaking the project to develop the lands will be costly.
He pointed out that its costs at least $4 million to have one house lot developed, which would require a vast sum being allotted for this purpose only.
Given that the number of applications would have mounted to the huge figure, Saul had explained that while it will be important to distribute house lots based on the date of the application, consideration will also be given to those in “dire need”.