Governor Theodore Orji
By Emmanuel Ugwu
After years of decay in urban infrastructure and unregulated physical development, Abia State Government has taken a bold step to develop a roadmap that would lead to well designed urban centres and regulated physical infrastructure development.
A blueprint to achieve this goal was outlined at the first Abia State physical planning and development stakeholders’ summit where town planners, architects, builders, surveyors, lawyers, engineers, landlords, organised private sector, media international agencies, among others came together to chart a new course for Abia’s decaying urban centres.
Abia state governor, Chief Theodore Orji, who was represented by his deputy, Col. Emeka Ananaba (rtd), said in his address that the summit was a first step forward in fulfilment of his government’s resolve to lay a solid foundation for the socio-economic development of the state.
“The new system that will emerge from this summit will avoid the mistakes of the past so that existing problems are sorted out at the beginning of any project, rather than at the end when those projects have reached completion stage such that correction can only be achieved through demolition,” he said.
Already the state is contending with the problem of illegal structures that the have defaced and distorted the original plans of Aba, the commercial city and Umuahia, the capital city, a situation the governor explained made prompted him to set up the task force, which is currently engaged in the demolition of illegal structures.
“As we all know, to lay a solid foundation for any malfunctioning project, it may become necessary to break down the bad structure. Also in a spiritual sense, the bad in us must die if the good in us will live,” Orji said in justifying the demolition of illegal structures.
Commissioner for urban renewal, Mr. Chukwuemeka Nwaogu, noted that government’s efforts to resolve the “enormous physical planning and development challenges” has so far not yielded the desired result; hence the summit would provide an effective solution to the nagging problem.
During a panel discussion, the deputy governor outlined government’s’ mission in the quest for urban renewal, saying that it has mustered the “political will to provide comfortable and adequate accommodation for our people”.
The summit with the theme: ‘Evolving sustainable physical planning and development roadmap for Abia state’ attracted the country representative of the UN Habitat, Prof. Johnson Falade, who presented a paper through a representative outlining how cities should be planned to achieve sustainable urban development.
He said that the laissez faire economic growth has made it very difficult to enforce town planning regulations in Nigeria, adding that government should always be ready to muster the political will to sanitise the city when things go wrong.