Wuse and Garki are two areas in the centre of the nation’s capital where many of Abuja’s legacy buildings that serve as living quarters for mostly civil servants are located. Many of the high rise buildings built over 30 years ago are as old as Abuja City itself, just as Wuse and Garki are among the first districts created after the birth of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
These quarters which comprise between two to three-bedroom apartments were initially built by the FCT Administration (FCTA) for civil servants and were later privatised and sold out to the workers. Daily Trust reports that some civil servants were the beneficiaries of the privatisation and some who benefited from the housing programme sold them out, while some still live in the houses even after retirement.
Our reporter went round to observe the current state of these buildings and found that most of them suffer from poor maintenance. Many of the houses are being left to rot away even as their owners still live in them. While the walls are breaking apart, the sewage disposal systems have been left to deteriorate and broken water pipes litter the environment. When these buildings are compared to such property in some African countries, it can be seen that regular maintenance keeps alive many old buildings built over 100 years ago which now serve as monuments and tourist sites. Example is the Northwards Mansion in Parktown, Johannesburg, South Africa, which was designed by a renowned architect, Sir Herbert Baker, in 1904.
The mansion is hailed as a fine example of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Notable features include stones sourced on site, plastered brickwork, a beautiful minstrel gallery and Juliette Balconies. In addition to being an attractive heritage property, Northwards also stands out for the way it was constructed. At the time of its construction, most homes were built from pre-fabricated and manufactured materials following the Industrial Revolution.
Northwards flew in the face of convention as it was hand-built by craftsmen and masons. Northwards has been exceptionally well maintained, and today, it plays host to the Parktown Trust and is occasionally used as a concert venue. This is just an example out of many other old buildings in different parts of the world which are maintained and kept functional.
A resident of Wuse who does not want her identity revealed, told Daily Trust that she and her family had been living in their apartment for over 30 years and that apart from poor maintenance, lack of cooperation by other residents was affecting the buildings. She said, “After my marriage in 1984, I was brought straight to this house and I had all my five children here. Most times when a meeting is held in respect of the buildings’ maintenance and the issue of money comes up, most people hardly contribute. So that is the reason the buildings are rotting away.”
She added that, “If you see renovation taking place, it is either inside an apartment, maybe because the owner is renting it out to generate money. “Most of us staying in these buildings are owners of the apartments, so my advice to other owners is that we should maintain them so that they would sustain us for a very long time as we don’t have anywhere to go if they collapse.” A retired civil servant, Okpara Stanley, who resides in his three-bedroom apartment in one of the high rise buildings in Wuse Zone 7, said the building was properly maintained because they formed a residents association and that the money they got from the association was what was being used to maintain the building.
Stanley said, “We believe that maintenance is what will sustain this property that some of us acquired over 30 years ago, and that is why we gather funds to attend to any immediate repair.” The Special Assistant on Media to the FCT Minister, Mallam Sani Abubakar, who spoke with Daily Trust on why the houses are not being properly maintained, said such houses were no longer in the “hands” of the authorities because they had been privatised and sold out. Mallam Abubakar added that where government came in was when the property was under violation of use or the owner tried to expand the apartment, then the Department of Development Control would take charge.
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