By Omeiza Ajayi – Abuja
The Federal Capital Territory Administration FCTA has attributed the recent upsurge in the number of illegal structures to the COVID-19 lockdown, announcing that it has commenced a weekly site inspection and enforcement exercise to rid the territory of such structures.
Director, Department of Development Control in the FCT, Tpl Mukhtar Galadima disclosed this on Wednesday while on an inspection of project sites in Guzape, Asokoro, Katampe Extension districts, and National Assembly Quarters, Apo.
According to him, many developers took advantage of the lockdown period to carry out illegal developments by either building without approvals or building the above-approved number of units as well as an arbitrary change of land use.
“I can attribute what you are saying to the unfortunate incidence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because most of these deviations have occurred during this period of lockdown”, he explained.
He said the authorities would deal with each contravention based on its uniqueness: “And from what I have seen, it is either we condone or we condemn (the contraventions).
Those we cannot condone, we apply appropriate sanctions -either it is for the payment of contravention charges where it is necessary and as approved by the authority, or where it is not, we remove them (illegal structures) automatically.
“We could also subject such contraventions to certain parameters, including paying for the whole value of that building to government. And for us to do that, we also have to check these parameters in terms of parking adequacy, plot coverage, and density of the area.
“At the end of the day, if we find out that these parameters are in agreement, then the developer is surcharged to pay the value of the property put on the ground.”
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The team visited development sites Guzape, Asokoro, and Katampe Extension Districts as well as the National Assembly Quarters, Apo, where structures were earmarked for immediate demolition.
Describing the Guzape and Katampe Extension developments as “impunity and flagrant abuses of building regulations”, Galadima regretted that the developers had almost completed building eight units on each side, instead of the four units approved by the authorities.
In the case of Asokoro, the Development Control boss said: “We were in Asokoro because of the past experience where somebody tried to modify what was approved for residential to hotel development. That is why we have been careful and cautious.
“The development adjoining that area, we have to be careful, that is why we are monitoring it from the excavation stage on a daily basis, to make sure they do not short-change the authority and become a nuisance to the society”.
Galadima who was visibly angry over total disregard for quit and stop-work notices by a developer at the National Assembly Quarters, Apo, ordered that the property, a major expansion of a residential building without any approvals be demolished within 24-hours.
He warned the public to desist from building any structure in the nation’s capital without first obtaining approvals from relevant authorities, adding that his department would catch up with all illegal developers and correct them accordingly.
“This is a continuous exercise. Every Tuesday is dedicated to the management site visits, and the essence of the visit is to inspect areas that have peculiar challenges and gather ideas on how to resolve them”, he said.