Khaled Mohammed Jewel Mollah is the Managing Director of Shegufta N.M. Housing Limited, a leading real estate company and member of REHAB. A company that started with only 15 Bighas is now much bigger with plots to the tune of 850 Bighas and also some housing projects to its credit.
Khaled spoke to FE on a variety of subjects mainly pertaining to important business and environmental issues related to real estate.
Excerpts of the interview follow: -
FE: What is the mission of Shegufta?
Mollah: We want to serve, that is the primary goal. The landscape of the real estate business has changed quite a lot. The age of monopoly or high demand and small supply is over. A number of good companies now vie for the consumer's attention. Shegufta knows that the customer deserves all their money's worth and we also know that the very best service is essential to make a niche in this market. The very best service for the customer is our natural motto, that is the reason, Shegufta N.M. has becomes the company it is today.
FE: Please tell us about your company's future plans
Mollah: We plan to go for a project consisting of 25000 to 30,000 plots, and the name of the project would be Shegufta Lake View. Our company would build around 5000 to 6000 quality homes, may be duplex homes for the discerning customers. The rest would be sold as plots. There are some commercial buildings being planned also . Shegufta always keeps the need of the lesser income groups in mind. We tried to plan for a project for the low-income group customers. However, it becomes difficult to sustain such a venture because the cost of construction materials rise in such a way that the projected cost rises making the project unsustainable. If the price of construction material could be kept stable for some time, we will consider building more projects for the common lower income groups.
We may make some progress if help in the form of cheap land could be arranged from the government. There is a need to think of making homes available for all income groups, even a rickshaw puller should be able to own a home, maybe we could offer him a home with only Tk.500 monthly mortgage. The main focus of our statement is to visualise the start of a system where most people would have a chance to dream of owning a home. At present, we can take a loan from House Building Finance Corporation at high interest. There are some housing finance companies also. However all customers should have more opportunity to get a mortgage in even more affordable terms.
FE: Some critic would say that there are too many real estate companies in Bangladesh and not enough land. To which direction is the real estate business going?
Mollah: Things have improved so much in our business. Go back some years, and you would remember some publicised cases of fraudulence on the part of some companies; homes were not handed over to paying customers. That kind of thing is now unthinkable, thanks mainly to REHAB and the able leadership of Towfique M. Seraj. We follow a code of conduct, and REHAB has transformed our business into some thing that the customer can appreciate. I would like to thank honorable minister and secretary of concerned ministry for their desire to help our sector. We have a long way to go but our desire is to see progress in all quarters. We would like real estate to build affordable and quality homes all over Bangladesh.
FE: Environmental questions have been an issue of come public concern with real estate companies coming under the limelight for encroaching on wetlands and causing harm to environment.
Mollah: There is no doubt that the environment has to be looked after. Why harm something that would harm everyone, the real estate people and the rest of country. The need for affordable and quality home is so great that some kind of problem has arisen about space. We hope the government would take some sort of initiative to create lands for development with quality approach road and other facilities. Have we heard of building built by the real estate companies collapsing and causing fatalities? Not at all. We believe that the real estate companies want to offer good quality homes and try hard to maintain a good standard. If mistakes like encroachment of wetlands take place, then the offender should be brought to book. The environment is sacred and we should protect the environment.
FE: We have talked about a variety of issues regarding real estate business, its past, present and future. Any final remark?
Mollah: we are all working to bring more order with the leadership of REHAB. The honourable minister, secretary and chairman of RAJUK are all trying to help our sector and we thank them wholeheartedly. The future holds promise with such a good team within our sector and we will continue to move forward. The ultimate goal being the creation of homes for every body.
The interview was taken
by Ershad Khandker