Demand, property values may drop in flood-prone cities

As Nigerian cities see an increase in rainfall, experts have predicted that demand and property values in areas prone to flooding may drop up to five to 10 per cent.

They called for action to avert a total collapse of the property market and measures to lessen effects on the real estate market.

Floods from extreme downpours and sea-level rise present a major threat to the survival of the property markets, especially the residential segment and could bring about a gloomy situation for owners/occupiers, developers, and real estate practitioners.

Studies generally have found that locations within a floodplain significantly reduce the property values relative to similar flood-secure housing in the same area.

Over the years, flooding has been a major concern to property owners in Akwa-Ibom, Niger, Ondo, Adamawa, Lagos and other States. Many homes especially those that are susceptible to flooding are swamped and properties worth millions of naira, experts said may still be destroyed if there is no strong political will to tackle the issue headlong.

Only recently, about 100 houses were destroyed and around 300 people displaced after flooding in Akwa-Ibom’s Eket Local Government Area in the coastal southern part of the country.

An estate surveyor and valuer, Dr. Meckson Innocent Okoro explained that the demand for properties in areas that are flood-prone will drop for sure, adding that when an average investor notice that there is flooding in a particular location, they won’t buy property in the area.

He said, “I sold a property to a client somewhere at Osapa London, Lekki sometimes last year during the rainy season. The rain was too much and that big channel around the area was blocked. The flood filled up and overran the height of the drainage and the whole street was flooded. The client that has finished paying for the property and just about to move in rejected that property till today. That is part of the consequences that you can see, there is a lot you can’t see on the Island and even in the mainland. But if you are desirous to buy property in Ikoyi or Victoria Island, knowing that flooding is seasonal, you will still buy it.”

Okoro who is the National Chairman, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Advocacy Committee and a fellow of the institution, said the local governments and states, in particular, should rise up to their responsibility and ensure that drainages within their jurisdictions are properly opened and de-flood locations.

Speaking on this development, Mr. Adedotun Bamigbola stated, “The critical thing is that individual properties that might not have appropriate drain off for water, the solid structural capacity to mitigate against flooding will definitely be affected in the prices and their values compared to others that do have appropriate drain off the system. In a place like Victoria Island, are there properties that are older developments and don’t have enough structural or drainage plan to mitigate flooding, of course, there are and there would have been the abandonment of some of those properties because they become less habitable. If there is no count of buildings affected in an area, it may be difficult to put a percentage or monetary worth.”

Bamigbola, who is the Chairman of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, (NIESV) Lagos Branch, expressed concerns on the absence of widespread, large, and effective flood maps in cities. He said Lagos government, for instance, has made some concerted efforts in limiting the impact of flooding, but water will always find its level and if there are no channels for it to drain off, it will always accumulate in cities before it will find a channel.

He said the government must develop the ‘political will’ to tackle flooding and the people must be ready to make sacrifices as well as do the right thing.

“Sacrifices in the sense that people must be ready to move from where they are so that the flood plain can be well channelled and water channels can be followed according to their natural course based on the flood map that would be designed. We must have a flood map. A lot of development has been done in the past especially in flood-prone areas and there have been no measures to prevent flooding. Government must be ready to do what is needed”, he said.

The Chairman, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, Akwa-Ibom State, Mr. John Isangedighi explained that flooded areas present a pressure on the people to move away from such areas. He noted that major causes of flooding in any area is the absence of infrastructure that would have aided the smooth flow of water to a larger drain that could take a huge volume of water out of the affected neighborhood as seen in Akwa-Ibom recently.

“If people live in locations where there is no threat of flooding, it will make such area a preferred destination to buy and invest in properties. But if an area is opposite, properties values will definitely decrease and most properties may be vacant. Areas that have facilities to take care of torrential rainfalls will see high demand for properties.”

In Lagos, flooding is a source of concern to stakeholders, as the enormity of the situation seems to have defied workable solutions in Agboyi Ketu, Shomolu, Surulere, Oworonshoki, Magodo, Iyana-Ipaja, Victoria Island, Lekki, Ajah, Ogudu and in other locations.

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency, (NiMET), had predicted about 240 to 270 days of rainfall for Lagos in the earlier released 2020 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP) report. The State government has urged residents of affected areas that might likely be affected by flooding to relocate safe plains.

The state commissioner for the environment and water resources, Tunji Bello, who gave the directive at a news conference last week, did not give details where the residents are to relocate and whether the government will extend a helping hand.

The Commissioner said the residents must relocate now and not wait until they are trapped in by a flood, which could cost more lives in addition to the damage to properties.

He charged residents living along the plains of Ogun River to be on the alert and take necessary precautions as the Ogun-Osun River Basin Authority, which manages the Oyan River Dam, will soon commence controlled seasonal release of water from the dam as a result of the weather forecast and the continuous heavy downpours.

Bello said the state that the volume of rainfall would be very high in June as its being experienced now and will run into July and September, urging Lagosians, however, not to entertain fears because as the government was considering measures to contain flooding that may be experienced as a result of heavy rainfalls.

A professor of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Lagos, Leke Oduwaye observed that the persistent flooding of cities and major towns could be due to the natural growth of most of these locations, which are often planned with layouts and not necessarily according to master plans.

Prof. Oduwaye lamented that many of the layouts, however, lacked proper drainage analysis of the locations stressing that the analysis of the drainage supposed to influence the road pattern but that is often ignored.

He said, “Most natural drainage lines and areas are therefore blocked and by the time the locations are 60 or 70 per cent build-up, the drainage pipes blocked will now surface and water will start to accumulate.”

Also speaking, the President, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners, (NITP), Mr. Lekwa Ezutah explained that heavy flooding being witnessed could be prevented through effective and enforceable physical planning of the cities and settlements.

“It’s either we didn’t plan or we plan and didn’t implement according to the plan. Physical planning will respect all the natural drainage channels so that when it rains, the floodwater will easily flow through the natural drainage channels”, Ezutah said.

He advised the government that while preparing physical development plans that such plan must take into consideration the topography of the areas and zone off areas and locations that are liable to flooding adding that flooding could be traced to non-application of planning principles.

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