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Abuja: Residents Zeal To Survive Accommodation Challenges

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The Federal Capital Territory (FCT),   for many people is a place to realise their dreams of earning big. However, for some people when they arrive, their dreams are easily achieved, while for others, reverse is the case. Because they find it difficult to realise their desired dreama.

This negative result in finding it difficult to meet some expectations by most people, may be from the high cost of rent to the high cost of living, which made their story to turn sour. But many residents have decided to turn their sour story into a sweet one at all cost.

The most excruciating pain for many residents in the FCT, is the high cost of house rent. Many live in fear over the threat of landlords to throw their property away for late payment of rent.  “It is as if you come to Abuja to work for the landlords,” David Akume, a resident of of Dawaki stated in anger.

“ You work throughout the year, and save and save, but all what you are saving is not even yours, because your landlord is waiting. In their case, they do not care that the economy is bad. You have to pay whether you like it or not,” he said.

Akume, who is a mechanic  stated that he had been paying N250,000 for a one bedroom flat, adding that his landlord had increased the rent to N300,000 and had refuse to bulge even after his plea.

“He refused even after I pleaded and pleaded. Life in Abuja is not easy at all. But, we have to keep pushing on. What I did was to tell him that I will be paying installmentally and that is what I have been doing. He had no choice than to agree to collect his rent that way. He is in Nigeria and had to know that the economy is realy bad,” he said.

For Akume, paying by installment has helped him to ease the pain of the rent payment, while helping him save a little for himself.

For the fact that living in high brow areas in Abuja is very expensive, people chose to live in the satelite towns, communities with the area councils and even other, outside the territory. Living in such areas, had according to some residents fufilled their dreams of becoming landlords and running away from ‘shylock’ landlords.

“I bought a land here for N80,000 from a Gbagyi man. I had stayed for two years and seen what others are doing, so I had to join them. I bought the land and got moulded blocks,  because that is the blocks they use here. It is cheaper. Within a year, I had my house. No more payment of house rent,” Peter Diala, a resident of Chika in Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) told FCT Watch while beaming with smiles.

Diala explained that though he did not know how safe his house is when it has to do with FCT administration, but he prays that he stayed their for years, enjoy his house before there is any talk of demolition.

The fear of demolition has been the beginning of high blood pressure for many residents of the territory. This fear have driven many into building houses on the tops of rocks, since mountains and rocks are common sights in the territory and the hustling residents of Abuja use them hamper their attempt of being landlords. It is now a common sight to see houses built on to of rocks in the territory.

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Emeka Onu, a resident of Dutse who has become such ‘rock, mountain tops’ landlords, explained to FCT Watch that he decided to do that when his landlord threw his bag out for late payment of rent.

“I had a problem with the contruction company where I work. They were retrenching people and I was affected. It had to go squat with some friends until I was able to get money to rent just one room for myself. I decided to try my best to get a house.

“My friend told me about a land he saw for N50,000. I was wondering why the land was cheap until we got there. Lo and behold, it was on high mountain. But, people were really clearing spaces and building there. I decided to do the same thing,” he said.

Onu however explained that building a house there was stressful as no vehicle where able to reach there,  adding that the materials for the job, had to be taken up by either himself or some people he paid to do it.

“Because I was determined, I succeded in finishing one room of the building in few months. I packed in. When I was at the one room, I finished up the rest. It was a two bedroom flat. I am glad I am now a landlord and I can no longer wait in fear for people knocking at my door for rent. Again, I am not that scared of demolition from high here. I do not know when it will come, but I feel safe here,” he said.

Living on the rock has its own disadvantages, for Faith Ilo, another resident it has not been easy for her going up and down the area,  especially when she became pregnant, adding that when one lives in such areas, there are no need for exercising, because walking up and down the area was a real exercise.

“Getting water to where I live is another case. People that live below me are able to get water from the nearest borehole around, a difficult tasks, I tell you. But, for me, I have to get water vendors called ‘Mairuwas’. They charge us higher. Sometimes, they charge up to N50 a keg, depending on how you bargain with them,” she said.

However, Ilo like many others stated that having a home of their own, no matter where it is located, it is better than living with the fear of having a landlord knocking at your door at all time for rent.

The Minister of FCT, Muhammed Bello, had said that the Federal Capital City (FCC), Abuja was designed for a population of 1 million, but the nation capital is housing more than 6 million residents, that the sustained influx of people into the city has multiplier effects on the city’s infrastructure and services.

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