Sanwo-Olu warns physical planning approving agencies against sharp practices

•As state receives over 4300 land grabbing petitions

Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Wednesday warned land and property permit approving agencies in the state to live above board, vowing that his administration would no longer tolerate officers engaging in sharp practices in giving approvals to structures in the state.

The governor gave the warning, speaking at the first Lagos Real Estate Market Place Conference and Exhibition themed: ‘Unearthing Real Opportunities in Real Estate, Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy,’ stating that residents and real estate practitioners were complaining about turn around time for permit approval.

Sanwo-Olu said there was a need for the State Ministry of Physical Planning and agencies under it like the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Agency and Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) to scale up and do a better job about physical planning approvals.

According to him, all the affected agencies need to be up and doing especially as the real estate sector has the capacity to redefine the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country, with Lagos, not an exception.

“We as a government, we have looked at ourselves and said we need to do things differently. That is why we have to sit down with you. One of the areas I know you have problems with us is not only in lands but also physical planning.

“We need to do a better job of physical planning, we need to do a better job of LASBCA and we need to do a quick turn around in our lands department, people want to have a positive experience.

“We have started it, we have on this GIS solution for a while, its a project we are desirous to go live on. Once it kicks starts, what it means is that it’s a one-stop shop. With it, you will be able to get your Governor’s consent, approval and Certificate of Occupancy, on time, all of the documentation for subsequent transaction,” the governor said.

The governor described housing, real estate, property development as a critical sector and strong enabler that can help to transform the Gross Domestic Product of the state and by extension the country.

Governor Sanwo-Olu posited that having a roof over one’s head was one of the critical needs of mankind, saying it was proper for the government and private sector to give priority attention to it.

The governor, while noting that real estate opportunities in the state were boundless and waiting to be explored, pointed out that LASREA, a housing regulatory body, becomes imperative “to ensure that there is data capturing operators in the industry and the right thing was being done in the sector.”

The governor further noted that the government cannot claim to know it all in exploring the opportunities, saying it was based on this that it must collaborate and sit with critical stakeholders to explore the opportunities.

He, however, said the state government was working on all the indices to make Lagos competitive in terms of ease of doing business, especially as Lagos is compared with cities around the world.

The Special Adviser to Sanwo-Olu on Housing, Mrs Toke Benson-Awoyinka, in her welcome address, appealed to investors in the real estate sector to team up with the state government to create a homeownership model that would help her address the deficits observed in the housing market in the state through the state Public and Private Partnership (PPP) initiative in providing mass housing for the people.

“As a government determined to bridge the housing deficit in the state, we are aware the role of government in not just the provision of houses alone but also to create an enabling environment for the private sector working hand in hand to the desired end.

“We will make a business thrive and we will relentlessly pursue the sole aim of government which is the protection of lives and property beginning with the provision of decent and affordable housing for the people of our dear state, Lagos,” she said.

Attorney General and the State Commissioner for Justice, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo, during the panel discussion, recalled that enactment of the State Property Protection Law in 2016 was part of efforts aimed at promoting ease of doing business in the state.

Represented by a director in the ministry, Mrs Kehinde Taiwo, Onigbanjo said the Taskforce on Land Grabbing, set up as a result of the law, had received over 4300 petitions with over 2000 of such petitions concluded.

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