The Managing Director of the National Housing Authority Mr. Samuel W. Thompson has unveiled an ambitious project at the cost of about US$50 Million for the construction of over 5000 affordable cost housing estates across the country, as part of its 150-day deliverables.
Delivering the keynote address at the regular Thursday press briefing organized by the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) at the Charles Gbenyon hall of the Ministry last week, adding that their observations reveal that there were shortcomings in the housing construction policies of the NHA as Monrovia is not Liberia.
According to the NHA boss, the initial housing estates outside Monrovia will be located in Kakata Margibi county, Zwedru in Grand Gedeh County, Quardu-Gboni District in Lofa County, and Tubmanburg in Bomi County which are areas of intense economic activities and high population concentration.
Mr. Thompson revealed that in view of loopholes in the existing system of low cost housing construction scheme in the country, up to the present Liberia cannot boast of over 2000 low cost housing units despite the construction of the several housing estates, namely: the Amilcar Cabral in old road Sinkor the Old and New Matadi near the airfield Sinkor, the Stephen Tolbert in Gardnersville and the E.J. Goodridge in Barnersville.
Mr. Thompson who has a distinguished career in the banking sector prior to his appointment to head the NHA lauded President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's decentralization policy and the policy of international best practices for Liberia's institutions initiated by the president, adding in view of government's policies they made and in-depth study of what housing policy will be best for Liberia.
According to the NHA boss the deliverables plan made them to study how countries like Sweden, U.S.A., Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya and found out that the housing sector can be a nerve-center of economic activities. "80% of economic activities in the USA are centered around the housing sector in the USA, 37% in South Africa, 60% in Sweden all of which use housing as an engine for economic growth, something that the President wants us to do."
The NHA /MD explained that there is a lot of economic growth activities coming up in Liberia in the next few years such as urban planning, road construction, provision of electricity and pipe-borne water which is why they have conducted a research on how other countries have been doing it.
Mr. Thompson expressed admiration for how Nigeria has addressed acute housing challenges through the setting up of a housing Trust Fund. "We are recommending the Nigeria model of mortgage system, as in the past no correlation between the banking system, the insurance companies and credible contractors. Since the coming of President Sirleaf, more use has been made of the banking system to process salary"
He added: 'we believe that the plan is working in many countries and why not Liberia. We are concerned with achieving the 150-day deliverables in a more holistic manner. South Africa, a post apartheid conflict country is far ahead with the housing mortgage plan and so is Kenya', he said.
The MD disclosed that they have received the land deeds of the old and New Matadi estate housing units, and will launch the mortgaging of the two estates to the residents soon. He explained that mortgaging means government and private sector partnership in the housing sector for the construction of more units, and like the LPA or low payment agreement they will be deducting about US$250 to US$450 over a twenty year period.