Ex-UNIDO official wants heavy taxes on vacant houses in cities

A former representative of Nigeria to UNIDO-France, Mr Olusola Kayode, has called for the introduction of high tax regimes for vacant houses to check their proliferation in urban centres.

Kayode made the call in Abuja on Tuesday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

He expressed concern about the existence of empty houses in many neighbourhoods in major towns in the country whilst many people remained homeless or lived in squalor.

“There have been worrisome trends of empty houses in many neighbourhoods in Abuja in spite of the prevailing high housing deficit.

“When you look around there are so many houses locked up and here are people in satellite towns and slums looking for houses to live in.

“This, therefore, requires that policies stipulating punitive measures such as high tax regimes for vacant houses should be promulgated to check the proliferation of empty houses that tend to create artificial scarcity and high rental values.

“There should be punitive measures for people who lock up buildings and are not letting out; invariably that should be a deterrent to future practice.

“There should be legislation to that effect and erring people must be sanctioned,” Kayode said.

He further urged the Federal Government to embark on mass housing scheme in order to provide adequate accommodate for civil servants and people who were dislodged by the insurgency.

According to him, shelter is one of the most important things needed by man and when a human being is well-sheltered, any other thing can follow.

“Insurgency has ravaged this country in the last few years and there has been mass migration from places where people lived all their lives to new environment.

“How do we address the issue of housing them because presently most Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps are make-shift ones?

“The hygiene is poor and when people live in zones that are not habitable, the threat of diseases emerging becomes obvious.

“So government must use local materials to accelerate mass housing scheme because the cost of housing is prohibitive.

“It is not only a housing scheme for the IDPs but also for civil servants,” he added.