By Alusine Sesay
One of the greatest challenges faced by a vast majority of Sierra Leoneans, especially those in the capital of Freetown, is the lack of access to affordable and decent housing.
After the war, many people migrated to Freetown in search of several opportunities including higher education, jobs and other basic amenities. This rural urban migration led to serious congestion in the city with inadequate housing facility to contain the growing number of population.
The available housing facility is so expensive that, a vast majority of citizens cannot afford to acquire. There is also the issue of acquiring land by the average Sierra Leonean with cases of land grabbing pilled in the courtrooms. And in most cases the poor are marginalized by the rich who can afford to bribe their ways through and get justice perverted in their favour.
To mitigate the situation and ensure lasting solution to the housing challenge faced by Sierra Leoneans, the EAP Group of Companies, one of the leading estate developers in Sierra Leone, are implementing the Mother Land City Project at York Village, Peninsular in Freetown, a project that will enable the least Sierra Leonean to afford decent housing.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of the company, Daniel Phoro-Kanu, the company is hundred percent Sierra Leonean privately owned with the utmost dream of saving Sierra Leoneans from the headache of acquiring basic housing facility.
“We have seen that housing is a big problem in Sierra Leone and we want to solve that problem. This is a journey that did not start yesterday, its being in the making for ten years. Our chairman is Professor Alex O. Philips .He had gone to different nations that have done well with real estate and see how they got it right. The last two years he was to Dubai to understudy properties and see how they did it right. And he got back home to see how we can implement that in Sierra Leone,” he said.
CEO Kanu said they have acquired 53 acres of land at York Village where they will construct five thousand housing that would be affordable by all Sierra Leoneans.
“The dream really is to create a destination where people who are in the diaspora can come back home not worried that they may not get what they used to enjoy in the diaspora. The serenity of the environment, the cleanliness, the consistency of electricity, and the constant flow of water are all things we put into consideration as we create the new city,” he said.
While many Sierra Leoneans, especially those in the civil service sometimes retired without decent housing facility,EAP will be in a better position to close that gap which has existed for years and taking many to the grave immediately they retire.
“We are creating a city for Sierra Leoneans at every level. The basic level is the level which every Sierra Leonean can afford. We have five years, ten and twenty years’ payment plans. We can give you zero down payment and you can start as low as NLe60 per day to acquire a decent housing,” he said.
To make the housing affordable by all and sundry, the company makes provision for different categories including Basic 2 Bedroom which can be paid for within the period of twenty years with an installment payment of NL60 per day.
“If you pay NL60 daily over a period of twenty years, you will be able to own two bedrooms basic housing, which is a very beautiful modern apartment not like any other housing built by mud that is not nice. We are even giving people a longer period to pay so that they can afford it.So, as you can see, our housing is not only for diasporas, but can be affordable by every Sierra Leonean. We have seen that housing is a huge problem, so we want to see how can solve that problem and decongest Freetown,” he said.
Other categories, he cited include Economy 2 Bedroom, Economy 3 Bedroom, Premium 2 Bedroom, Premium 3 bedroom, Premium XL 4 Bedroom and Premium XL 5 Bedroom, which are all affordable by all and sundry within a reasonable period of time.
He said clients would be given access to their housing after they pay sixty five percent of the total payment while the remainder will be paid while they occupy the apartment.
How the city would look like?
With adequate study of urban planning and the appropriate expertise, the company has the technical knowhow and capacity to design a city that would contain all basic facilities that befit the true character of a modern city.
“In the mother land city we are creating, everything is going to be there. In the city, we have shopping mall, Water Park, church, mosque, hospital, school. So, we are going to provide everything that will keep people within the city that they don’t need to go out for. It will be a complete city with all basic facilities,” he assured.
He said the school and other facilities within the city are going to be made affordable by all their clients.
“That is why we are not people who are coming from another planet or another place. We are Sierra Leoneans who understand our Sierra Leonean people and we know what they can afford and what they cannot afford. And, even looking at our prices you will notice that we know the Sierra Leonean society,” he said.
He said the EAP is the umbrella body with subsidiary companies that would be providing energy, water, security, transportation, among several others.
He said they would create a Water Park that would be at the entrance of the city and that it will be the first in the Mano River Union basin from where people will be ferried to Liberia, Government Warf in Freetown, Lungi and other places across the country.
“The Water Park will create a lot of tourist activities in Sierra Leone. We are going to get a Ferry,maybe people will find it difficult to drive through the city to York and so one can just enter the ferry and easily access the city,” he said.
He said the city would be divided into sub communities with various recreational facilities including gyms, pools and children’s playing ground.
In it embryonic stage, the company has attracted hundreds of clients with a majority of them being home based.
According to CEO Kanu, they have had six hundred clients and that they have started work on the project with clearing of the land currently underway.
He said they have the man power to deliver the housing to their clients within the stipulated period of time.
“We want to make sure Sierra Leoneans enjoy things that are of quality,” he assured.
He encouraged Sierra Leoneans not to hesitate doing business with the company because they are here to solve the housing challenge of the country.
He said currently, they are partnering with the United Bank for Africa (UBA), which is ready to do bulk payment on behalf of interested clients, who will in turn pay to the bank while they occupy the housing.
He said plans are underway to expand the project in all major cities across the country but that they decided to start at York which has a rich history.