IRWA Urges Enforcement of Laws on Illegal Encroachment on Highways

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A group, the International Right of Way Association (IRWA), Chapter 84, Nigeria, has called for a review of construction traffic control plans and enforcement of laws on illegal encroachments on highways.

IRWA is a global body that has over 10,000 members from over 15 countries around the world. Though not popular like professional body in the built environment in Nigeria, but members have been involved in most infrastructural and real estate projects in Nigeria.

Members are from various professional associations, like the Nigeria Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV); Nigeria Institution of Surveyors (NIS); Nigerian Bar Association (NBA); and Nigeria Environmental Society. This is the first time IRWA Chapter 84 Nigeria is bringing professionals in the right of way practice under one roof.

President of IRWA Nigeria, Mr. Emmanuel Mark said the purpose of the right of way management was to provide appropriate traffic planning and coordination of all activities in the right of way acquisition processes.

Mark, who was recently elected president, stated that he plans to unite efforts of members towards individual development, improving service to the employers, the public, and advancement in the body of knowledge related to the professional tasks of members.

He said: “The association comprises of a dynamic global community of dedicated professional members. Our members will also have certification opportunities in appraisal, asset management, negotiation and acquisition. IRWA is a platform for our members to have global industry-wide recognitions, designation and certifications and to elevate the role of right of way professionals by strengthening their industry relevance.”

He urged the government to amend the relevant sections of the Land Use Act to conform to the generally accepted standard of acquisition and compensation instead of complete abrogation.

Mark called attention to section 29(4)(a) that allows for an amount equal to the rent paid to the government, as well as cost of improvements to the land. “This ignores the fact that the allottee could have acquired the land from its original allottee at a huge cost in the open market,” he said.

“Right of Way acquisition and compensation is usually a challenging exercise. Global diversity of right of way acquisition and compensation have brought the issues of best practice to the front burner.

“Issues of right to legitimate process; to notice; to be heard; to appeal; to transparent procedure, and equivalent compensation, among others, constitute the best practice in ROW acquisition,” he said.

Mark, who is the principle partner, Nuel Mark and Partners, a renowned firm of estate surveyors and valuers, revealed that the dual objectives of every Right-Of-Way activity are to ensure security of the assets and to guarantee that the assets could be sustainably managed.

“We ensure that our clients received cost-effective right of way services to guarantee income to finance cost of capital. It is also to note that capital is, of course necessary, it is not sufficient to ensure success. Capital has to be focused on the right projects and then spent judiciously.”

On communities and property owners shortchanged in course of governments’ acquisitions, Mark restated the responsibility of the right of way profession to the people and businesses. “We encourage and foster high ethical standard in our profession.

“We adopt a code of ethics for our constant guidance and inspiration predicated upon the basic principles of professional competence, character, integrity, fairness, commitment and trustfulness. These principles provide the foundation for establishing and maintaining all professional relationship.”