New concerns over physical development as states shy away from cities and city master plans | The Guardian Nigeria News


These are not the best times for the practice of town planning, as most state governments have relegated the problems of town and village planning to the background and have abused physical developments. Nigeria’s Urban and Regional Planning Act of 1992 stipulated that each state should embark on the preparation of physical development plans at the regional, urban and local scales to guide the effective growth of its settlements. But the reverse is happening as most of them ignored it, which led to a rapid manifestation of the slum conditions.

The Conference of Directors and Heads of Town Planning Organizations in Nigeria recently confirmed the development and decried the generally low level of regulatory and institutional instruments available to support the practice of town planning in Nigeria, and observed that most Settlements do not have physical development plans to guide their growth and, if so, their life periods have expired.

They agreed that the preparation and implementation of a mutually agreed National Physical Development Plan (NPDP) should be adopted as one of the tools for integrated physical planning and effective delivery of development benefits to the people of Nigeria. . Most states do not adhere to the recommendations and have continued as usual. Attempts have been made by the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat) to bridge the gap.

UN Habitat has worked with many states to prepare structural plans for major cities. “All plans have been prepared with strong public / stakeholder participation to ensure that the priorities and needs of residents are well understood and properly reflected in the plans,” said Kabir Yari, director of the office. support from UN-Habitat in Nigeria.

The agency has assisted the states of Anambra, Nasarawa, Osun, Kogi and Niger in the development and adoption of structural plans in major cities. For example, Awka, Onitsha and Nnewi (Anambra); Lafia, Doma, Karu, Keffi (Nasarawa); Osogbo, Ikirun, Ila Orangun, Ilesa, Ile Ife, Ede, Iwo, Ikire and Ejigbo (Osun); Lokoja, Okenne, Kabba and Dekina (Kogi) as well as an integrated development plan for Minna and Suleja (Niger).

Preparation of urban profiles in ten urban centers, provision of three one-stop-shop youth centers and urban modernization in the old town of Katsina and formulation and adoption of 20-year structural plans in the three participating towns (Umuahia, Aba, Ohafia in Abia State is still in the preliminary stages.

Concretely, town planners fear that the situation will degenerate. Yari, former president of the Nigerian Institute of Urban Planners (NITP), told the Guardian: “The lack of development plans for large urban areas means that cities will develop haphazardly and inefficiently. “This makes accessibility difficult, due to the efficient use of land resources and the conversion of good agricultural development into urban development. In addition, the urban form becomes locked in, requiring a lot of resources to upgrade to the planned settlement.

“It’s always more cost effective and efficient to plan ahead, before development. This guarantees the development of neighborhoods that are compact, connected and integrated, efficient, safe and pleasant to live in. It is therefore strongly recommended that all urban areas have physical development plans to guide their growth.

According to him, the challenges are many. They include the lack of appreciation of the importance of planning, the dwindling financial resources for states and local governments, and the failure to implement most of the plans already prepared. NITP Second Vice President Mr. Olutoyin Ayinde said: prescribed by the plan, there will be a tilt towards where development takes place, which is why migration takes place from rural to urban, from less developed states to more developed states.

He lamented that policymakers do not pay attention to planning. “Policymakers and administrators often think of planning as a matter of slips of paper. What they don’t realize is that dreams (of beautiful colonies) first start in the mind as a vision, and then they’re put on paper to test feasibility. If you win on paper, you are likely to win on the court.

“A people get the kind of settlements they deserve. The high level of ignorance must be emphasized, even at the political level, and this is where the problem lies. More awareness is needed to put planning, especially physical planning, back into place. Organized cities are deliberate; these are not coincidences. Planning is what makes them organized.

Collaborating on the views, Abubakar Sani, former president of the Association of Urban Planning Consultants of Nigeria (ATOPCON) revealed that only Abuja had and followed a master plan for its physical development. “Even when attempts are made to have a master plan / structure, these plans are abused by governments, used only as a tool to punish the opposition. Blueprints are designed to guide physical development, but here in Nigeria our leaders only ask for a blueprint when a problem arises. Master plans prevent planned problems so as not to solve problems.

“The Kaduna master plan is obsolete, although an attempt has been made to renew it but it is not complete. The lack of a blueprint to guide physical development is like physical development through trial and error. Thus leading to the waste of resources, lives and property. Planners are trained to anticipate physical development challenges and provide guidelines to mitigate those challenges. However, in Nigeria we just want to see physical development without preparing for it. “

Another town planner and former ATOPCON president, Moses Ogunleye, lamented that the commitment to implement master plans was not there. “Even before it expires, less than 30% of the plans’ proposals are not implemented.”

NITP Public Secretary Mr. Olugbenga Ashiru said the situation still affects physical planning as there is no instrument to control development, “this leads to the development of devastated areas and the unavailability of infrastructure and basic public services “.

He called for the political will of administrators to produce and implement land use policies and plans; synergy between professional bodies such as NITP and government agencies as well as public awareness and stakeholder engagement on land use planning issues. Ashiru exonerated city planners from the civil service and linked the problem to insufficient manpower, funding and bureaucracy. “They can only suggest to the government what to do and apply it, they are working according to government guidelines,” he added.

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