By Ugochukwu Alaribe

The Abia State Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, has urged relevant authorities to ensure the implementation of physical planning standards in the state in order to have an orderly environment.

He noted that lack of planning and indiscriminate erection of buildings had caused the blockage of drainage channels, leading to the flooding of markets, roads and homes.

The Commissioner, who stated this during a stakeholder’s luncheon by the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners, NITP, Abia State Chapter, in Aba, warned that the era of indiscriminate erection of structures in the state is over and urged town planners to help actualize government’s efforts in ensuring planned cities in the state.

He stated that the Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu-led administration is committed to delivering well laid out cities with basic infrastructure and frowns at attempts to subvert planning standards.

He said: “The lack of priority given to the implementation of physical planning standards had led to arbitrary erection of structures on unapproved spaces, especially in Ariaria international market where buildings were built even on drainage channels.

“A new Abia must emerge out of a planned Abia. London in the United Kingdom is not the most beautiful city in the world, but is only a well planned city. We are dreaming of a new Abia. When I was growing up in Aba, there was a free lane area between buildings and roads in the city center and back streets where even vehicles could pass through. But today, they have built on such open spaces. They have closed the drainage channels and sanitary lanes.

“Look at the challenges of flooding we are facing at the Ariaria market, it is as a result of building randomly without planning. This is why Gov Okezie Ikpeazu is remodeling the market in phases starting from the A-Line and building roads to economic centres. The Governor is set to deliver a new Ariaria international market as part of the emerging Abia of our dream so that the market will truly live up to its international status. Governor Ikpeazu’s administration recognizes that physical planning is a catalyst for economic development; we need the support of town planners to achieve well laid out settlements and boost investments in the state.

“Ask yourselves if you are part of the emergence of a new Abia through your professional conduct. Ask yourself if you are failing in your duties of offering advice and insisting that things must be done right in public interest. Abia state government is committed to doing the right thing no matter the cost”, he concluded.

In his goodwill message, National President of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners, Olutoyin Ayinde, who blamed policy makers for the chaotic development of human settlements in the country, explained that the luncheon is another opportunity to call the attention of those at the helm of affairs to start the journey of planning for the future.

He tasked the electorate in the 2023 elections to only support candidates who are willing to fund physical planning and sustainable development, adding that nobody should expect a functional city without planning.

Also speaking at the event, two past national presidents of NITP; Lekwa Ezuta and Chijioke Odimuko, stated that physical planning provides framework that helps leaders to transform vision into reality using space as resource for development.

Earlier in his address, Chairman of NITP, Abia State Chapter, Stephen Nwazue, who stated that a master plan will set the state on the path of growth, commended Governor Okezie Ikpeazu for paying the counterpart funding to UN-Habitat for the commencement of a master plan for Aba, Umuahia and Ohafia cities, and hoped that the project would soon be actualized.

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