Facing the Challenges

Influx of Nigerians into Abuja and lack of funds to develop infrastructure are the major challenges the Federal Capital Territory Administration is finding creative solutions to

 

Demolition-of-a-shanty-(slum)-community-at-the-FCT,-Abuja

Demolition-of-a-shanty-(slum)-community-at-the-FCT,-Abuja

ABUJA-TRAFFIC

ABUJA-TRAFFIC

 Twenty-three years after the seat of government officially moved to Abuja, the city has failed to grow with the years. Out of 79 districts that are supposed to have been developed over a period of 25 years, the FCT Administration has only managed to develop 11 districts within a period of 35 years. Usman Adamu, senior special assistant to the FCT minister on economy and finance, said about N40 billion is needed to fully develop a district. But the annual budget of the territory is less than that amount. In 2014, the budget of the territory is a meager N31 billion, without any certainty that all would be released.

The expenditure of the government is growing and different sectors are competing for the available resources. The result is that the FCTA cannot get enough funds to meet its developmental needs. This is why development of new districts, construction of new city roads, expansion of water supply and provision of infrastructure in old districts have become almost impossible for the FCT administration.

Yet, the city continued to grow in population, estimated at five million, especially as insecurity in the northern parts of the country forced many to relocate to the FCT. The available infrastructure has been overstretched, leading to the growth of slums in the city. Lands allocated for housing have been developed without government being able to provide infrastructure in such areas. Yet, costs of houses and rents have continued to climb the roof largely because of land speculation. People who get government allocation resell at exorbitant prices to third parties and developers.

The result is that poorly planned districts have surfaced in the city, leading to flooding of residential areas, traffic gridlock, congestion and unsafe neighbourhoods. Genuine developers were unable to access land to build affordable housing for the teeming population. This was the situation when Bala Mohammed, a senator, was appointed minister of the territory. He and his team studied the situation and thought of how best to accelerate the development of the city in line with its master plan. They brainstormed on how Abuja could be given an urgent facelift in view of dwindling budgetary allocation.

Umaru-Sanda

Umaru-Sanda

The way out was to find an alternative source of funding to develop the city before the descent became irreparable. The administration then came up with the idea of using land, which is the major resource of the territory, as an alternative source of funding for infrastructural development. Thus, instead of scratching for the elusive funds to give the city a facelift and develop infrastructure, the administration decided to partner with the private sector. The private sector is allocated land free while it provides infrastructure, housing and other amenities that the administration may require to develop the city.

This is how the administration was able to get the private sector to open new districts, build infrastructure and houses in different green areas of the city. The advantage is that the huge funds that could have gone into the development of infrastructure are now being channelled towards education, health, transportation, water supply and security. Water supply has been tripled in the city with the installation of two new water treatment plants at Bwari Water Works. It was commissioned early this year by President Goodluck Jonathan. Many places that hitherto lacked tap water in different parts of the city now enjoy running taps.

The administration has also embarked on extension of water supply to Abuja Technology Village, and to private developers’ housing estates to fast-tract development in those areas. Such mass housing estates are also being provided with primary roads to make them more habitable. The roads in the city, which have started failing due to long years of use, are now being resurfaced in phases by the administration. The ones in Wuse have already been completed, and work is expected to start on those in Garki area.

The Department of Development Control has also been energised to ensure a facelift for the city. Building approvals can now be obtained within three months, instead of one year that was the case previously. This is made possible through electronic vetting of building plans. File retrievals and enforcement process are now faster. About 437 abandoned buildings in different parts of the city are now being built to give the city a facelift.

According to Yusuf Anako, director, Development Control, the improvement in the processes of the department has led to increased revenue generation. An agency that used to generate about N800 million now generates up to N3.8 billion yearly. The result of all these is that Abuja is gradually reclaiming itself and growing into a mega city that could be one of the best 20 cities in the world.

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