Wither Lagos Master Plan as Govt allocates Lekki Police Station, Public Car Park to Individuals

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LAGOS is fast going the way of unplanned cities as the original master plan is being thwarted giving way to arbitrary developments that further compounds the problem of the city.

Lamenting on the situation, a concerned citizen living in the Lekki Phase One area, James Anifowoshe complained about the arbitrary allocation of residents’ water fronts to unscrupulous individuals for sand filling as one of the off-plan moves by the state that scares investors.

In an article titled “The Developing City – Lagos, Nigeria: A Case for a Stronger Master Plan” written by Byron Nicholas and published in “Black + Urban”, he stated that “in 2017, a BBC report, A City That Won’t Stop Growing highlighted the seemingly endless population growth of Lagos, Nigeria. By 2050 Nigeria is projected to have twice the population it has today, more than half will live in cities, and about 60% of them will be under 25. If we do not intervene to solve the issues that overcrowding may cause, Lagos will be the 3rd largest city in the world with the least infrastructure than any other large cities of the world”.

“Lagos, Nigeria has the potential to be an economic hub not only for Western Africa and the rest of the continent, but of the world – reaching ranks such as Tokyo, New York, Hong Kong, Paris and London” but incessant flouting of its master plan is a problem. For example the only police station meant for Lekki and the public car park has been reallocated to individuals. For now there is no police station for miles away.

People incessantly lose their waterfronts through corrupt allocation by unscrupulous officials. These are lands officially gazetted and paid for as waterfronts. Some waterfronts in Banana Island and Osborne Foreshore Estate 2 have disappeared due to such out-of-plan allocations.

The theme of such allocations is pecuniary greed by government fiat. This, according to Mr Anifowoshe drives foreign investors away. Places designated as residential areas have been gradually turned to shops and offices. This has led to congestion and has made the allocation and maintenance of state infrastructure difficult. For example the sharing of electricity between residential and commercial areas has been pretty difficult. Some industries get power supply at night while some residential areas get power during the day as the order of demand has been reversed. Also, roads in residential areas get destroyed quickly due to overuse by trailers offloading goods in warehouses based in residential areas.

“Yes there is a plan but it seems that the government is deliberately going off plan”, he said. If you go to London, the Trafalgar Square and the Queen’s old palace remain where they are as part of the plan for the city. Here, such land would have been shared or reallocated for other uses. The Nigeria House in London still occupies the same space. There are no shops or kiosk built anywhere near it. In Lagos, you cannot be sure of the scenery even in one year due to corrupt reallocation of land.”

“Imagine that in the whole of Lekki Phase One, there is no Police Station and car park. Business districts have been turned into residential areas by government fiat while residential areas are being turned into business districts under government watch. The Lekki Business District has been bastardized. Whereas in the master plan each building in the District is meant to be a ten-storey high, small buildings and container shops have sprung up making the district look like a business slum. The same fate that befell Surulere is fast befalling Lekki. Many houses now have attached shops.

Public protests against such acts are often rebuffed by persistent state officials and their collaborators bent on achieving their aim and distorting the master plan. For example, the Forte Oil filling Station on Admiralty Way/Admiralty Road junction in Lekki was not part of the Master plan. Lekki residents protested to the State Government over the issue but the government suddenly gave a fiat which squeezed the filling station into the area. The filling station which also has an eatery can barely contain 6 vehicles. The traffic congestion arising from this is usually huge.”

Nicholas wrote that “Western cities have one thing that considers them amazing places to live, work and play. Each of these cities has developed some sort of ambitious master plan which they follow through. Most cities underwent a physical renovation period to modernize the city for generations to come.

A master plan is a policy framework, in the form of a comprehensive document that envisions the physical, social and economic capacity of a city well into the future.

Nowadays, much credit is given to city’s Master Plans for designating land uses and acting as a regulatory document to plan future development. In most developed cities great parks, bars, restaurants, apartments, houses, entertainment centres and government institutions can be contributed to a comprehensive master plan”.

Africa’s developing cities need stronger master plans. “On the contrary, many large cities in developing countries, particularly in Africa, seem to have weak master plans, mostly with western planning ideologies that do not seem to provide a detailed account of how their city should look and grow into the future, in regards to their economies, housing affordability and availability and public infrastructure. For example, there is a stereotype that Africa’s cities are not economic growth hubs, when in fact they are located in some of the fastest growing countries in the world. Their master plans/economic plans should reflect their economic potential to lure investors.

According to Mr Anifowose, “impunity is a social vice which is being accepted as the cultural norm in Lagos. Irresponsibility and lack of integrity of state governments make it impossible for businesses to plan. Extortion, hooliganism and gangsterism of governance weigh down on the populace”. “When we got to Lekki newly, there were no transformers, no water and no roads. Most of us built our roads ourselves. Twenty years down the line, the strategic master plan we bought into has changed considerably. The problem with the Lagos Master plan is lack of integrity, social responsibility and accountability. Otherwise, how would a government turn children’s playground to shops or car park to residential houses. Anybody can wake up and build a kiosk or begin to fry “akara” in front of his house. Residential houses now have shops built into the available spaces thus leaving no parking spaces for cars. Vehicles are parked outside leaving narrow road for road users. Most people in governance do not understand the dynamics of urban planning. Lagos, a city that is over 160 years old, ought to be protected”, he said.

“We implore the new government of Governor Babajide Sanwoolu to intervene and restore the Lagos Master plan. This will resolve a whole lot of issues including traffic congestion. Traffic issues are highly correlated with the abuse of master plans. For every road created, there ought to be other access roads that will serve future development in that area. Lack of adequate planning for future development of areas, causes traffic congestion in future.

In comparing two of the continent’s city master plans: Kigali, Rwanda and Lagos, Nigeria, Byron Nicholas quoting a New York Times article, stated that “after 20 years of the horrific genocide, Kigali, Rwanda is emerging as a proud capitol city, known for its progressive start-ups, energetic art scene and great dining and coffee. A notable Singapore architecture and planning firm recently created an award winning master plan for their city which focused on sustainable transportation and housing.”

“Kigali’s Master Plan:

  • The plan is realistic and Spans from 2013-2040 (27 years)
  • The plan is colourful with graphs and has a clear vision
  • The plan is easily available on the government’s planning website
  • Transparent free trade zone and economic hubs within the city
  • Ambitious for a city its size
  • Focuses on decentralized nodes
  • A clear implementation plan”

“Lagos’ metropolitan area holds one of the world’s largest populations but bears many of its burdens from overcrowding including inadequate housing and transportation infrastructure. The government is starting to grasp the benefits of investing in the city’s technology sector. Many notable technology companies are beginning to look at the city’s large general population and workforce as an asset for high supply and demand. However, the City’s Master Plan does not reflect the government’s effort in making Lagos a smart city for the future to lure investors.”

“Lagos State Development Plan

  • Not that many graphics, reads more like an essay, not engaging to its audience,.
  • The plan is less realistic and Spans from 2012 to 2025 (13 years)
  • The plan is not so easily available on the ministry of economic planning and budget website
  • Not transparent
  • Not very ambitious for a mega city
  • Supposed to focus on tech hubs and smart city initiatives but doesn’t have any technology related information.
  • Spelling errors
  • No clear implementation plan”

“The current development plan for Lagos is weak. It needs an ambitious comprehensive development/master plan backed by all levels of government to catapult the mega city into the future.

In suggesting a way out, Byron Nicholas recommended the following:

  1. Facilitate a global competition to attract well-known architecture and planning firms and companies to create an ambitious physical master plan framework.
  2. Release a RFP for global architecture and planning firms to BID on a contract to create an actual comprehensive document.
  3. Create an extensive public engagement process with workshops and charrettes.
  4. Create a more realistic timeline for planning and implementation.
  5. Engage in marketing for public support, stakeholders and investors.

 

In proffering his own solutions, Anifowoshe wants the government to go back to the integrity and responsibility of the master plan. The law on the implementation of the plan should be enforced.

Nicholas wrote; “If I was an investor, I would look towards investing or visiting Kigali based on its plan. Western nations have developed strong physical or master plans for their cities to thrive centuries into the future. It is time that developing cities on the African continent do the same but with the intentions to resolve problems with their own standards and metrics.”

– June 24, 2018 @ 18:19 GMT |

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