By YINKA KOLAWOLE
It has been revealed that less than twenty percent of all state capitals and major urban centres across Nigeria have any form of physical development plans to guide their growth. This implies that eighty percent of the major cities have no development plan.
Mr. Moses Ogunleye, Chairman, Lagos Housing Fair Committee and Managing Director, Beachland Resources Limited, disclosed this at a media briefing on the forthcoming 11th edition of the annual Lagos Housing Fair, scheduled for the first week of next month.
Ogunleye criticised the low level of physical planning in towns and cities as well as rural settlements in ensuring that lands are properly classified and laid out. He attributed the situation to poor management of land by the different tiers of government in the country.
“It may interest you to know that at present less than 20 per cent of state capitals in the country has any form of Physical Development Plan to guide their growth. Some of these are Awka, Owerri and Port Harcourt while Lagos cannot boast of a composite or broad base plan for Metropolitan Lagos,” he said, adding that no town or city in the South_Western part of the country had a development plan to guide its growth.
According to him, since the Lagos Regional Development Plan (1980–2000) expired, the state government has not been able to come up with another comprehensive document to address new urban growth challenges, although work is ongoing on the preparation of development master plans for some areas of the state.
He argued that if we fail to plan on how to use our land resource, land ownership and housing development would be hampered. “If we do not plan how to use our land, which is a vital resource, how do we promote land ownership and housing development? Apart from individuals, the experience of private estate developers, vis_à_vis land access or ownership has been most discouraging. This has also affected the number of houses that could be delivered by private investors,” he stated.
FG plans 36 new cities across country
The federal government is planning thirty-six new city layouts, one in each state, to help de-congest overcrowded cities across the country.
Minster for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Mr. Nduese Essien, disclosed this recently at the ground breaking ceremony of a housing project in Yenegoa, the Bayelsa State capital. He made this same remark in Odukpani Local Government of Cross River State, also at the ground_breaking of an estate in the area, noting that work is about to begin on similar projects in Owerri, Oshogbo and Kaduna.
The minister said that the plan is aimed at depopulating major cities in the country and to create room for the construction of new houses in a well_planned and serviced environment in the states.
He noted that 100 hectares of land had been allocated to Federal Housing Authority (FHA) for the development of residential housing estate in Bayelsa State.
“In the course of the year, we will build a new city near Yenagoa. The same arrangement will be replicated in the 36 states of the Federation,” he said.
Essien explained that lands allocated to Federal Government by states won’t be allowed to remain fallow for too long to avoid encroachment, stressing that in this year’s budget, provisions have been made to pay all outstanding payments for Federal Government owned lands in various states.
The project is being funded by the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria(FMBN) and the Bayelsa State Government at a cost of N3.5 billion for both construction and infrastructure development of the estate. The Bayelsa state government is to provide N1.5 billion for the infrastructure development of the 500 units of houses ,while FMBN is to provide N2 billion for the construction of the project.