Experts decry non-domestication of urban planning laws in states
Institutional framework for physical planning still inadequate, unstructured
With planned settlements rapidly deteriorating due to poor management, sustainable construction has remained one of the most important topics to emerge. Currently, there is a high demand for construction stakeholders to commit towards sustainable development, but the political will to carry it out has constituted a major clog in the wheels of progress.
The resultant effects have been increase in informal settlements, slums and sprawls due to the inability of cities to cope with rapid urbanization.
This was reinforced at Habitat III, the United Nations first global summit on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development held in Ecuador, where world leaders adopted the New Urban Agenda , which set global standards towards achieving sustainability in urban development.
The New Urban Agenda provides an avenue to rethink the way we build, manage, and live in cities through drawing together cooperation with committed partners, relevant stakeholders, and urban actors at all levels of government as well as civil societies and the private sector.But experts said , non-domestication of Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning Law 1992, which could help in meeting these demands has remained a major problem in urban and regional planning.
According to them, the law provides the establishment of Institutional machinery for urban and regional planning at different levels of government.
Specifically, the law provides for physical and development planning in Nigeria and for the protection of environment from unapproved development that alters cities and regional aesthetic appeals. It establishes the Development Control Department and the Urban and Regional Planning Tribunal. It also requires, for the purposes of the initiation, preparation and implementation of the National physical development plans, the Federal, State and local governments to establish and maintain respectively: (a) av National Urban and Regional Planning Commission; and (b) a State Urban and Regional Planning Commission.
Despite the imperatives of a clearly designed physical planning in solving most of urban/regional problems in larger geographical territories, about 23 states of the country are yet to implement the provisions of the Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning Law of 1992 as amended.According to The Guardian investigations only 13 out of the 36 states of the country have so far domesticated the law, which is a fundamental criteria before developing instruments such as; Master plans, and accompanying lower order development plans for towns and cities.
The non-compliance with the planning Act by these states was re-echoed in the Communiqué issued by the Nigeria Institute of Town (NITP) at its just concluded Annual Conference.National president of NITP, Luka Achi said the non-domestication of the law by the 23 states was as a result of apathy and lack of political will and ignorance on the part of the states’ executives who could have take the lead in the effort aimed at domesticating the law.
The national planning commission that is very important in solving a lot of our problems like; the issue of cattle rustlers, transportation, infrastructure and others has not been touched.He lamented that the nation has enough institutional frameworks but the problem lies on non-implementation stressing that often some people would not want such framework to be implemented because of their personal aggrandizement.Former president, Association of Town Planning Consultants of Nigeria (ATOPCON), Mr. Olaide Afolabi, said it is lamentable that even in states where the law has been domesticated, there was still lack of political will to implement it to the later.
According to him, even in a state like Lagos, the Centre of Excellence, conceited efforts have not been made to set up a tribunal, which is the main component of the law.Afolabi stressed that the tribunal serves as a place where compliant against the planning body could be taken and not in a regular courts.The whole essence, he said, is to ensure sustainable environment and the absence of the tribunal will not guarantee that.
For Dr. Taibat Lawanson of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Lagos, the law essentially tells how the cities should be planned as well as identifies framework for urban planning across the three layers of government so that planning are hierarchical and development can be asymmetric.
According to her, the law is comprehensive and provides the framework for holistic development, which made the agitation for it to be rife.
Stressing the importance of the tribunal, Dr Lawanson said even the planning process allows for a feedback and when the public are dissatisfied with certain decisions, they have an opportunity to ventilate their grievances.
Apart from that, the tribunal, she said offers an opportunity for second opinion on these issues since it is important to test the laws.She also lamented that even though the law allows for the establishment of national planning commission, it has been delayed for some reasons.
Also a former Director of Town Planning Services in Lagos State and Past National President of NITP, Remi Makinde urged states that are yet to domesticate the law to do so, saying it will enhance the value of life, the environment and economic potentials of the states and communities. According to him, if there are no plans on ground, it will lead to abandon projects, as the operators will result to the rule of thumb.He also extolled Lagos state government for domesticating the law and going a bit further to amending it several times.
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