By Grace Alegba
Lagos – A new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is on the way to speed up the construction of the ongoing PEN/Jewel Estate for journalists in Lagos, now being slowed down by funding problems.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the project is being handled by the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) and the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ).
NAWOJ President, Mrs Ifeyinwa Omowole, said on Friday at a stakeholders’ meeting in Ikeja that an earlier arrangement to deliver the first set of houses in December 2016 failed due to inadequate funding.
Omowole explained that subscribers defaulted in payments and that efforts were ongoing to get new financiers to sign a fresh MOU, to speed up the project.
“NUJ/NAWOJ have given the new MOU to lawyers to study the loopholes in the agreement, so that we do not make a mistake.
“We are still arranging the MOU, but in the end, we would sign the MOU and the developer would commence work.
“The issue here is funding. We have paid only N70 million out of the N1 billion we were supposed to pay as 40 per cent of our counterpart funding.
“The funders would do the development and pay the contractor in tranches,’’ she said.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Lagos NUJ, Mr Deji Elumoye, told subscribers that Primewaterview Holdings Ltd, contractors handling the project, had given assurances that the funds to be accessed were interest-free.
Elumoye explained that more than 60 per cent of subscribers had defaulted in their payments, making it impossible for the unions to pay its 40 per cent counterpart funding for the project.
He, however, said that the construction of 208 units had begun and would be completed by June, adding that only those who made substantial contributions could be beneficiaries.
“The problem is that people are not forthcoming with payments; after the initial N130, 000 payment was made, some people did not pay anything again.
“Are we saying that it is with N130,000 that we want to fund a multi-million Naira project?
“More than 60 per cent have not paid beyond the 420 dollars which is the N130,000 when converted as at the time of payment, so, where do we go from here?,’’ he asked.
Elumoye explained that because the time for the initial counterpart funding had elapsed, the rate for the three bedroom bungalow was now between N5 million and N6.2 million, due to inflation.
He, however, allayed fears raised about the sizes of rooms in the apartments and plots, which he said the union would tackle using construction experts.
Elumoye also assured subscribers that both the contractors and surveyors would be in attendance at the next meeting, to provide some technical details on the project.
“We would have a shopping mall, a nursery school, road network, a police station, a market and other facilities, and all these will come out of our plots of land which we have built into the project,’’ he said.
The chairman assured journalists who may want to opt out of the project that their plots and contributions would be returned to them soon.
NAN reports that the NAWOJ/NUJ laid the foundation for the 800 housing units for journalists at the Abaren Community, Mowe, in the Obafemi Owode Local Government of Ogun State in June 2016.
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