Insecurity triggers demand for gated communities in Abuja, others

The recent surge in insecurity across major cities is inducing preference and demand for gated communities.

The development has created opportunities to reduce vacancy rate and open up further investment opportunities to private developers in Lagos, Abuja, Onitsha, Ekiti, Kaduna, Ondo, Zamfara, Imo, Anambra, Lagos and other cities.

Gated communities are residential housing estates with strictly controlled entrances for pedestrians, automobiles and often characterised by a closed perimeter of walls and fences.

The structures usually consist, small residential streets and include various shared amenities that may include a park or other common area.

For larger communities, it may be possible for residents to stay within the community for most daily activities. And homes in gated communities do tend to fetch higher sale prices than similar homes in nearby non-gated communities.

The Guardian investigations revealed that living in outskirts have become security risk and force many residents to relocate to safer areas.

Confirming the development, the Chairman, Nigerian lnstitution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, (NIESV) Ekiti branch, Dr. Sunday Olajide, said people move close to where they can get maximum security because of increasing cases of robbery and kidnapping.

He said: “I have three people, who had to move from the houses they built in the outskirts of the town to government quarters, where they know that security is assured. I have seen government workers that have three or five houses in the city but due to security issues, they prefer to remain in two or three-bedroom flats in government quarters. “

Olajide lamented that insecurity is pronounced in almost all parts of the country, adding that this should be a concern for government to act urgently.

According to him, the federal and state governments have to address factors promoting crimes such as lack of access to affordable education, homelessness, poverty, juvenile delinquency in the society and high rate of unemployment in the country.

“Housing is social need that the government should provide for everybody. The idea of gated community is real only in developed economy in the sense that the various laws that are to be followed such as two entrances, where one could be opened and the other one for escape, the security man will always be at the gate seems not to be working. In Nigeria, the outer and general security that government is supposed to provide is not there. Imagine somebody kidnapped from his or her bedroom and no one would be there to help.

“Even putting fences or gates is like what a professor calls ‘architecture of fear,’ blamed on the fact that the economy is not good and the government is not doing the right thing. Now, when you build tall gates, you are indirectly inviting criminals that something precious is in the house. “

The immediate past chairman NIESV, Lagos branch, Adedotun Bamigbola, said with current realities, security has become a necessity for everyone. Hence, the need to live in a secured residential area.

Bamigbola said: “People who have the means now preferred to live in an environment where there’s communal support for security rather than stay in house built in a lonely location.

“The trend has been on for quite a long time but it is the income earning capacities of individuals that determine it. People who live in lkoyi, Lekki and other parts of Lagos lsland live in more secured environment than those in Surulere as locations have become a factor.

“The more affluent your location is, the more secured it can be. Areas that have the highest property value are the secured gated estates. Places like lkeja GRA, Ogudu and Magodo command highest value because there is communal contributions for security, which drive more demands.”

According to the immediate past chairman of NIESV, Anambra State branch, Mr. Justin Okaro, insecurity has impacted on demand for gated communities, which are often the most secured, stressing that in Anambra, particularly in Onitsha, most of the gated communities have specialised vigilante group and security outfits that are well equipped to protect life and property.

“There are very few areas now that are not gated. When you have increased in demand for such facilities, the prices will definitely go up even with the increase in prices of building materials,” he said.

Also reacting, the Chairman, Kano State branch of NIESV, Mr. Lasisi Abidemi, said such properties are the most patronised during this period because they seem to provide safety, especially in locations like the Government Reserved Areas and those closed to military formations.

He stressed that the rise in demand also impacted on land values and rent along such areas.

He said: “Although Kano has been calm recently but most people still have nightmares of the past ugly experience and don’t want to live in areas that are open to attacks. People living in outskirts are a bit closer to farm settlements and fear possible attack, that is why they are moving into the city centres.

“ In Kwankwasiyya Housing Estate in Kano for example, people are afraid of the security around the area, till now about 70 per cent of the houses are still unoccupied.”

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