The Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Lagos State Chapter, has called on government at both State and Federal level to pay more attention to physical planning as it is the bedrock of any meaningful physical and economic development of a community, city, or nation.
The Chairman of Lagos State Chapter of the professional body, NITP, Tpl Adebisi Adedire made the call at a press conference marking the World Town Planning Day held at NITP Joseph Awogbemi House, Central Business District (CBD), Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos.
Adedire said, Globally, world town planning day creates an opportunity for professional planners and the general public to come together and dialogue on necessary steps to be taking in pursuit of achieving an environment which is beautiful, safe, economical, sustainable and convenient for habitation.
But according to him, Nigeria is yet to enjoy an environment of these characteristics but “as an Institute we are optimistic that with continuous dialogue like this as well as involvement of Town Planners in policy formulation and implementation, our country would be an envy of other countries in the world.
“Thus, the bulk of the activity of town planners is plan preparation. Urban and regional planners, as we are formally called, develop plans and programmes for the use of land. These plans help create communities, accommodate population growth, and revitalize physical facilities in towns, cities, countries, and metropolitan areas”.
He maintained the Institute would like to commend the Lagos State government on their effort in aspect of plan preparations, which, he is aware that the Lagos State Government through the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development has prepared model city plans for almost all the local government areas within the state.
Furthermore, in a bid to improve the physical planning process, the government through the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority has created the electronic Planning Permit process, which is quite commendable.
“In addition, I think the state government is doing her best in upgrading the transportation networks especially ‘the road’ within the state. Improvements are being made on the mass transit, waste management, housing and even security”.
Adedire pointed out that at the moment they have identified few salient issues associated with Town Planning in the state and federal levels which must be addressed as soon as possible, therefore using this medium to reach out to the state and federal governments to as a matter of urgency attend to these issues.
Parts of these issues are, “Creation of a full fleshed Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development at the federal level with the great importance attached to Town Planning globally, it is not wise for physical planning and urban development to be operating as a department under a ministry in the country.
“What obtains today is that physical planning is under the ministry of Power, Works and housing. This should not be. The country is in urgent need of proper physical planning. As such, a ministry should be created for this purpose.
“The ineffectiveness of town planning administration and activities at the federal level at the moment is as a result of this. The truth is if physical planning and urban development at the federal level is less functional, we shouldn’t expect functionality from the states.
“Execution of Land Use Plan and Analysis Report (LUPAR)
It has gotten to a stage where monitoring of Physical planning cannot be solely carried out by Town Planners in the public service. Planners in private sectors should be drafted in.
“This can be done by the implementation of Land use Plan and Analysis report. How will it operate? The Ministry or agency in charge of development permit in all states will mandate it by regulation that all development proposals should be accompanied with the report.
“The town planner who prepares the report for that project would therefore be commissioned to ensure that the development when approved does not contravene the approval granted. The town planner in charge due to the knowledge already gathered as a result of the survey carried out within the location would be able to monitor development also within the area. With this, the running cost of the agency would be reduced because officials may not have to be visiting the site again. Also, jobs would be created for town planners.
“In addition, on the long run, the land use map that would be generated for each location can eventually be merged together to form a comprehensive land use map for the State. It is therefore recommended that the federal government look into this. We also call on the state governments to expedite actions on this. I am hopefully that Lagos State which unarguably is leading state in the federation would attend to this first.
Other salient observation raised by NITP Chairman includes recruitment of Town Planners,
while appraising the activities and workforce of the Federal Ministry as well as the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban development and its agencies particularly in Lagos State, it was discovered that there are no town planners at lower cadre in these MDAs.
“The meaning of this is that the government both Federal and State have not recruited town planning staffs in the last five years. If this continues, it could lead to the extinction of town planning profession in the ministry because when the present officers retire, there might be no one to fill in their positions.
“As such there would be a lacuna which may not be filled by members of other professions. For this to be avoided, there must be urgent recruitment of town planning graduates into the Ministries both at federal and states levels”.
Other areas that need urgent attention according to Adedire are implementation of Planning Laws, which are the legal backing that supports all planning control activities such as Zoning, Development Control, Land Acquisition and Compensation among others.
In Lagos State in particular, the model city plans prepared need to be in operation fully. The plans should be made available to the public and should serve as the guiding principles and template for development of the cities. I am also aware that the institute is proposing the decentralization of town planning process and reestablishment of local planning authority.
“We would be making our intention known to the Lagos State House of Assembly soonest and we are hopefully that this would see the light of the day.
“Embarking on the preparation of National/Regional Physical Development Plans
According to history, the last national physical development plan prepared for the country was the Fourth National Physical Development Plan which was proposed to run from 1981-1985.
“It is unbelievable that we have not had anyone since then. Yes, there have been few regional plans but many of them were not even implemented. The haphazard pattern of infrastructural and physical development of the country is as a result of the non-availability of a national development plan.
“I think it is time for the country to chart a new course in respect to physical development. This can only be done through a comprehensive national physical development plan.
“Take for example the on-going Lagos –Ibadan light rail transportation. If there had been a proper development plan, I am confident the issue of abandoning and reissuing of contract would not have surfaced. With the plan in place, successive governments would only capitalize and progress further.
“Once the federal government can lay this template, state governments would be encouraged to reproduce same in their states. Achieving this may be difficult if physical planning and urban development is not accorded the necessary attention and allowed to exist as a ministry”.