•DOLLAR Construction Boss, IDOWU LAMIDI
Engr. Idowu Lamidi, the MD/CEO of Dollar Construction, a big real estate companyh in Ibadan. The big news is that he has landed himself yet another mega deal. And that is the biggest gist within the real estate sector in Ibadan right now. The new project, AEROVIEW Dollar Estate, is the phase 3 of Dollar Housing Estate. It’s located at Samonda area of Ibadan, in Oyo State. The estate when completed, according to Dollar Construction boss, would be one of its kind, judging by the past achievements and standard that the company is known for. But how did Dollar Construction come about such a strategic location for it’s new project? What really does he want to do with it? What are his plans for the coming year? All these and many other interesting issues formed the topic of discussion last week when City People’s Correspondent, DARE ADENIRAN (08057639079) visited the site of the new project. It is indeed a mega project in partnership with WEMABOD-TAHCL and the Oyo State government.
Lately, Dollar Construction has been dominating the Ibadan real estate sector. Within a very short period of time that he came to Ibadan, he has given a good account of himself in his sector by providing quality housing estate services and this new one won’t be in any way different. Enjoy the excerpts of the brief but very interesting chats with Dollar, as Idowu Lamidi is fondly called by his friends and associates.
On getting here we realised the land on which your new project is situated used to be Oyo State Trade Fair Grounds. Tell us about it.
You are right. The land used to be Trade Fair Grounds under Oyo State Ministry of Commerce & Industry. It was initially given to The African Housing Company Limited and WEMABOD Estates Limited to build a community market. That was before I came into the picture. But when I joined the team I made them understand the fact that the area is not suitable for a community market. It’s a landlocked area. In planning, a market shouldn’t only have good roads network but also communities that will be patronizing it. There must be, at least, 2 to 3 communities around the area. A market of 11 hectares of land definitely would be too big for just a single community. If you also look around apart from Aerodrome GRA, every other things are educational institutions and religion centres. To the left is Poly Ibadan, to the right are Aerodrome and Ventura Mall. Directly opposite is UI. So there is no community as such in this area. Roads for easy access are not also there, which means you will have massive traffic to deal with. Another point is that the area is sparsely populated. Once the schools close by 4 or 6 everybody goes home. There won’t be activities again. So based on my professional advise we approached government for change of use. The Oyo State governor through the Ministry of Lands, Oyo State Investment And Public Private Partnership Agency (OYSIPA) granted the approval. That is why we have decided to make it a residential estate. So the partnership is now between WEMABOD-TAHCL, Dollar Construction and the Oyo State Government.
Considering the present harsh economy in the country, how do you plan to source for funding to execute this huge project?
Well, financing housing projects could be somehow. But like the popular saying that “it takes the community to raise a child”. That is our strength. That is why I don’t drive flashy cars. That is why we don’t live a flamboyant life. Our priority is to deliver quality estate like we have done in other projects we have handled in the past.
What are your plans for this new project in terms of aesthetics aspect of it and affordability?
Plans have not changed from the quality standard that we are known for, which includes but not limited to providing a mega estate with good roads network, a cool and serene environment, where one can feel comfortable raising his or her child. To create a neighborhood devoid of noise and unnecessary stress. In all our estates, we always have a place called green area. There is always club house (not night club) for relaxation. The club always comes with pool, games for both adult and kids. This is a comprehensive estate, different from GRAs that are common in Ibadan. It is a comprehensive estate because it has all the facilities one could ever think of. Of course, our houses are affordable with the amenities that come with them. It now depends on one’s taste and budget.
You started your company from Abuja before moving to Ibadan. Is there plan to extend your tentacles to other parts of the state, especially your home town, Oyo?
Our major target is to conquer the whole of south west. The issue however is that volume counts when it comes real estate business. How many people can afford this kind of estate in Oyo, Ibadan or Abuja? All these and many more have to be taken into consideration. So if we are going to Oyo now, what we can do there is site and servicing. By creating a place with roads and other amenities and sell lands to people. What actually makes an area a hot cake is the infrastructure. It’s the infrastructure that we can provide in places like Oyo, Osogbo, Ede and others. So that people can build at their own strength and pace.
What other aspects of construction is Dollar into apart from building estates?
We are among the category B on Federal government contractors list. We are also into government contracts. And that is why it has always been easy for us to provide these infrastructures in our estates. We have all the equipments. The only equipment we don’t have in road construction is spreader. And it’s because it’s a machine you don’t use often. But all the other ones we have them, that is why it’s also easy for us to construct roads and other amenities in our estates.
What is Dollar Estate main selling point since you don’t do buy land and get ram kind of promo?
Having a good home is what everybody prays for in life. In my lifetime, I plan to have as much as possible houses because it’s a way of transferring wealth even to the unborn generation. We don’t engage in the promo of buy land and get a ram or whatever. Those who engage in it have their targeted audience, which is working for them. Somebody who bought 600,000 worth of land and was given a ram of 300,000 already knows what will end his story. I tell you 95% of these estates may not see the light of the day. Because it takes a lot to build an estate. So our audience are quite different. Our own audience are not the ones you will tell to buy land and get ram for free. Ram can never be priority of somebody who can afford to buy a house of 100m naira, 200m naira. Of course, it is not out of place, during festive period, to appreciate our customers by giving them foodstuffs and other things.
Its seems this year has been a big break for you; your estates are hot selling and you have embarked on the phase 3. What are your plans for 2023?
What develops cities most is not just the buildings but good roads and social amenities. Our mega plan for 2023 is to make industrial layouts. Between Oyo and Ibadan, there should be a good number of industrial layouts there. Same goes for Lagos-Ibadan Express Road. So that we can create more enabling environment and encourage more industries to come to Oyo State.
One of the challenges facing real estate sector in Nigeria is trust issue between builders and customers and the landgrabbers menace. How have you been managing these aspects?
Experience has taught us a lot of lessons. For instance we have different payment plans. Milestone payment plans and all of that. For instance we had an experience recently at one of our projects in Abuja. A client bought a place from us, he hasn’t even finished the house before he died. He put name of a lady as the next of kin. Meanwhile, whenever he was coming to the site he used to come with his son. So when the man died the son came and said he wanted to claim his father’s property. We told him he is never the next of kin as filled in our form. The guy ran to the police, they invited us and we presented our own side of the story. That settles the matter. On the trust issue, it is unfortunate that we still have some dubious people in the sector. It is important for people to always be vigilant so they won’t fall victim of the fraudulent ones. That is why we pay more attention to our image. We have been able to build a good reputation for our brand over the years. That also explains why we always have office at all our estates. We also run an open door policy, no secret whatsoever. The workers know which house has been sold and which hasn’t. We have never had issues with landgrabbers because we don’t buy land from individuals. We prefer buying from governor whether local or state government.
What has kept you going in the real estate business despite challenges here and there?
I try as much as possible to avoid distractions. My eyes are always on the ball, to be a better person everyday. Real estate gives you money but the money is not totally yours. Some people have entrusted you with their money. I know when to draw the line. There is time for work and there is time to relax.
Another thing that has been pushing me to work harder is my daughter. My first daughter who is studying engineering and in her 200 level. I’m looking forward to passing the baton to her, and I don’t want to pass a rotten baton. I want to pass a baton that she can hold high and be proud of.