The Lagos State Government has disclosed plans to address the dearth of skilled workers in the construction sector with the introduction of the ‘Master Craftsmen Project’.

The Commissioner for Housing, Mr. Gbolahan Lawal, disclosed this at the inauguration of the Lagos Home Ownership Mortgage Scheme Oko-Oba Housing Estate.

He said, “The Master Craftsmen Project is another policy initiative of this administration, which is intended to redress the dearth of skilled workers in the building industry such as masons, carpenters, steel fabricators, plumbers, electricians, painters, joiners, tillers and the likes.

“It will appear that the Nigerian housing and construction industry is becoming more and more dependent on foreigners to fill the skills gap created as our trained artisans gradually age out and not sufficient number of new ones are being trained to replace them.

“In order to correct the above anomalies, the Lagos State Master Craftsmen Project is being introduced as the government’s intervention in collaboration with relevant professional bodies, particularly the Nigerian Institute of Builders.”

According to the commissioner, under the programme, a craftsman may be attached to a reputable building construction company or assigned to the numerous housing projects of the state government for a specified period to undertake skill capacity building after an initial training at the centres.

Lawal said that at the end of the period, the trainee would be subjected to appropriate examinations and be registered as a master craftsman, if successful.

“About 4,000 craftsmen are to be trained over a period of four years, and the government will provide them with the basic tools and equipment,” te added.

The LagosHOMS, Oko-Oba, which was inaugurated by the commissioner, sits on a land area of 15,785.632 square metres and comprises nine blocks of 12 flats each, totalling 72 two-bedroomed flats and 36 three-bedroomed apartments with modern infrastructure, including mini waterworks and external electrification, among others.

Lawal said the state government was committed not only to increasing the housing stock, but also to improve the entire housing delivery process with a view to ensuring that the units were more readily accessible.

He stated, “It is in the light of the foregoing that the state government recently unveiled the Rent-to-Own policy. The policy is aimed at making housing more accessible and affordable, particularly to low and medium-income earners, both in the formal and informal sectors.

“Under the arrangement, individuals are required to pay five per cent of the value of the housing unit as a commitment fee and rent is paid over a 10-year period at six per cent interest rate towards ownership. The programme is expected to commence with selected estates across the three senatorial districts of the state.”

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