Categorized | Nigerian News, Real Estate

addressing poor planning of Nigerian cities, towns

  written by Stanley Opara

Nigeria is confronted with rapid urbanisation, high rural-urban migration and dearth of infrastructure to cope with the influx of people into the metropolitan areas. The reporter looks at the poor planning of Nigerian cities and towns, and the way forward.

According to the United Nations Agency for Human Settlement, about 56 million Nigerians, representing 70 per cent of the country’s urban population, currently live in slums.

The situation has been sustained over time because the culture of poor planning of town and city centres has continued unabated.

Good planning of Nigerian towns and cities, according to experts, is a strong pedestal on which rapid infrastructural development rests.

Good drainage systems, effective road networks and impeccable solid waste management system, among others, are tied to effective planning and organisation of the environment, especially in the urban centres.

In fact, some environmental and health experts argue that life expectancy in the country will rise reasonably if there is better planning of cities and towns.

Nigerian cities have continued to grow organically without provisions for social and infrastructural services, and this ugly trend is more pronounced around the periphery of most state capitals and the Federal Capital Territory.

The Nigerian Institute of Town Planners has said that it will partner the Federal Government to tackle the problem of slums across the country, which has thrived because of poor town planning.

Nigerians are, however, still waiting to see the result of the planned collaboration.

According to a former Chairman, NITP, Lagos State chapter, Mr. Moses Ogunleye, who spoke to our correspondent on the telephone on Friday, most micro settlements can enjoy good planning within their confines as can be seen in some estates across the country.

He, however, said that the developers of such estates still had issues because they usually thought of the micro estate rather than the larger society, which had prevailing planning issues.

Ogunleye, who is also the Managing Partner, Beachland Resources Limited, organisers of the annual Lagos Housing Fair,, noted that roads and drainage channels, among other facilities, should be developed to promote integration of various settlements.

“Even when some of these settings are planned, some of the plans are not implemented. That is why we still see spots designed for the construction of a recreation centre or even schools being converted to residential buildings,” he explained.

Most major towns in Nigeria, according to him, do not have physical plans, while the few that have are not reviewed after their expiration.

Ogunleye said Lagos, Sokoto, Kaduna and Kano, among others, had expired plans; while Abuja’s had been altered severally.

Areas like Ekiti, Ibadan and Ilorin, he said, had no physical plans on the ground.

“Even the Federal Government does not have a plan, whether a master plan or a structure plan. Now, if you want to build anything, you can get a land and expect government’s approval. But for a state like Anambra, there is a step in the right direction as the government has succeeded in making plans for three major towns,” he explained.

The Beachland boss advised that with new administrations now in place in many states, the governments should strive to have composite development plans.

“These should be able to integrate what is on the ground and what is to come. With the plan, everything that makes a settlement to function will be embedded and there won’t be any need for ad-hoc plans,” he said.

Ogunleye maintained that with a proper plan in place, government would save itself the hassles of looking for places to build amenities, like the case with the nine universities that the government was planning to establish.

According to him, if there is a good plan, all the government needs to do is to spot the locations it wants from the plan and construction will commence immediately and there won’t be any need to start searching for space all over the country.

In the same vein, the Chairman, Lagos State Public Works Corporation, Mr. Gbenga Akintola, said the appalling state of most urban centres was being aggravated by the attitudes, actions and activities of people who lived in the urban centres.

He said indiscriminate disposal of solid waste and unlawful excavation of roads, among others, were capable of disrupting the status quo and making the environment unfit for living.

According to Akintola, the human element is a very critical factor in the bid to guarantee safer urban settlements.

He said that in the course of planning, various facilities were usually put in place and must be properly maintained and serviced.

The LSPWC boss noted that if people refused to take care of the facilities, they would deteriorate and disrupt any plan on the ground.

The President, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners, Mr. Kabir Yari, said that the increase in the number of slums in major cities across the country was as a result of inadequate planning and poor infrastructure.

He also said cities and towns in Nigeria were growing very fast in an unplanned and informal way, and that the lack of adequate planning and poor infrastructure were the major causes of poor quality of life in Nigerian cities today.

This, according to him, has major implications on the competitiveness of Nigerian cities and their ability to support local economic development, as well as attract investors and Foreign Direct Investment.

Yari said there was the need for effective collaboration and cooperation between all members of the built environment to enable them to deliver functional, aesthetically pleasing and sustainable cities, towns and other human settlements for the country.

The Surveyors Council of Nigeria recently identified proper management of land as a key step towards ensuring the growth of the country’s economy and empowering the citizens.

The council also attributed the increasing number of slums in major cities across the country to poor planning of towns in the country.

With advancement in technology, built experts maintain that town planners should advocate modern land information system and the adoption of the Geographic Information System in all states of the federation in order to have easy access to maps and land information.

Most Nigerian cities are still grappling with the problem of poor planning, lack of good roads and dearth of infrastructure. Experts believe that the earlier this anomaly is corrected, the better it will be for the nation at large.

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