By Jude Njoku
A novel approach to urban renewal has been adopted by the Ondo State Government in a bid to give Akure, the state capital a befitting status.
The new approach is centred on the development of an ultra-modern international auto market, a mechanic village, a neighbourhood market and shopping complex. The developments are geared towards taking car dealers, mechanics and traders off the streets of Akure and giving them the opportunity to carry out their businesses in conducive and hygienic environments.
The Senior Special Assistant, SSA to Governor Olusegun Mimiko on Direct Labour Agency DLA, Mrs Mobolaji Tunde-Suara who disclosed these to newsmen in Akure last week, explained that the bottom-up approach adopted by the government, has ensured that the relevant stakeholders were carried along and that they are the principal beneficiaries of the new schemes.
Specifically, the Mechanic Village is made up of 200 shops. Each cubicle has ramps, pits and an area designated for an office or changing room. There is also a section for panel beating.
Interlocking paving stones
The roads are constructed with interlocking paving stones. Mrs Suara explained that interlocking paving stones were used in place of asphalt because diesel and oil that would be freely used in the village would affect the lifespan of roads if asphalted.
There is also a Car Wash section in the village. Each workshop is expected to accommodate three artisans, bringing the total number of mechanics expected in the Village to 600.
Mrs Suara who said the Direct Labour Agency projected N98 million for the project, explained that so far, the Agency has spent only 57 million. With work at the completion level, the DLA boss said the Agency may end up returning some money to the government treasury.
Work on the construction of the Village which is sited on 1.3 hectares parcel of land, started in April last year and was billed for completion on Artisans Day in November 2011. This deadline was not achieved because the access road to the Village which is currently under construction, could not be completed. But the DLA boss assured that the project would be completed and commissioned in February.
Other attractive features of the Mechanic Village include: a bush bar where people can relax while their vehicles are being repaired and places of convenience.
One workshop, according to Mrs Suara, can take five cars at a time. She explained that her Agency would discourage a scenario where people abandon their vehicles in the Village. “We have a space behind where vehicles not being worked on, can be parked so that vehicles don’t litter the Village,” she said.
A novelty being introduced by the Agency is the establishment of a Spare Parts Market to offer complimentary services just opposite the Mechanic Village . This will ensure that those who want to buy spare parts to fix their vehicles, do not go far before making their purchases.
Asked how much the allottees would pay, Suara said it has not been decided but assured that it would be a token. “It is not so much about how much we will make as profit but the need to get mechanics off the streets as part of our urban renewal programme,” she said. Meanwhile, a Maintenance Committee will be set up to ensure that the facility is well maintained by the allottees.
The International Auto Mart which is fully operational, was built to ensure that dealers in automobiles operate from a particular place instead of the previous practice where car dealers blocked major roads in Akure metropolis. This measure is already paying off as the auto mart which is well landscaped and demarcated, is booming with activities.
Also conducting newsmen round A Caring Heart Neighbourhood Market otherwise called NEPA Neighbourhood market, Mrs Suara said it was the flagship urban renewal project by the Direct Labour Agency. The project was informed by the need to take traders off the streets of Akure.
The market which is located at Adekunle Ajasin Road, has about 24 lock-up stalls and 200 open shops.
The market’s prominent features include canteens, solar powered water and light, public toilets and a sorting bay. The market was built in a circulatory pattern to enable people drive round easily. Mrs Suara disclosed that occupiers of the open shops pay a paltry N25 daily while those who occupy the lock-up shops pay N50 daily. The money is used to maintain the facilities in the market.
“This market served as a litmus test in our efforts to take traders off the streets of Akure. We did on-the-spot picking of the traders who were trading along the roads,” she explained.
A Caring Heart Shopping Complex located at Alakale Road is another urban renewal project being executed by the Direct Labour Agency. The shopping complex is sited at a place where people before now, sold wears such as Aso-Oke.
On completion next month, the shopping complex will have 260 shops in two four blocks. The fifth block will house the administrative block, a banking hall and a creche.
The doors and windows are see-through while the circulatory design of the complex is to arrest spill over unto the road.
The adjourning plot of land, according to the DLA boss, would serve as an additional parking space.