The process of development or building in Abuja starts with obtaining valid title documents i.e. land documents that proves ownership which in the FCT is granted by the Minister.
When you get this allocation document, as soon as you are ready to commence development you come to the FCT Development Control Department which is currently in the process of simplifying this process in such a way that all lands based on their districts will put on its websites indicating the types of development required, because Abuja is a planned city with specific regulations in terms of building height, land use, setback, parking requirements, etc.
So, before anyone even commences design, the person ought to come to the Development Control Department. You may have what you want in mind but there are minimum design standards that have to be followed, and for you to do that, you have to have a copy of the FCT development control manual which will guide you.
For commercial development there are certain required documents e.g. environmental impact assessment report, and if it is going for more than two suspended floors there has to be a soil investigation report to tell us the type of soil and whether it has the carrying capacity, and even the type of foundation that you’re going to have.
When all this is done there are teams that will visit the site and compare with the documents and reports you submitted. Once we’re satisfied with these, we now look at the drawings viz-a-viz our requirements in the manual and now we compute what you are expected to pay to government, the building plan processing fee, and when you pay that we stamp your drawing and convey approval to you.
This is stage one. In stage two, which is now on site, before you commence you have to inform the development control department of the date you intend to commence having done the excavation and foundation based on initial approval.
Once officials give the OK, you will be permitted to commence, and continue with reinforcement, columns, beams, etc. Officials will continue to inspect the project until you reach the roofing stage, we call it stages inspection approval, to ensure there is conformity with land use because sometimes people modify what has been approved, from residential to commercial.
A certificate of completion and habitation is finally issued if everything is okay at the end and the owner can now enjoy his or her property.
Considering the time frame for all these, the urban regional and planning law states that approval for building plans must be given within a 90-day period otherwise reasons must be given as to why it is not. This process is currently being reviewed in such a way that, bearing all circumstance, you get your permit within 60 days.
The fees to be paid for planning approval is subjective in the sense that it varies, from location to location, and phases, and residential is different from commercial or industrial. But the charges are based on volume of development, length, breadth, and height, thus the higher you go the higher the charge.
The challenges being faced in development control are seen as opportunities and when tackled, i.e. when people commence development, people are employed to work so this translates to rapid development of the FCT.
Regional development offices were recently created by the FCT Administration so this will ease the development processes.
For those that want to circumvent all these development process will lead to outright removal of such structures and we sanction the offenders. And we are also in the process of imposing stiffer penalties like imprisonment to deter people from violating the process.
Also any staff found involved in any scam the civil service rules would apply and this may lead to dismissal because some illegalities arise from compromise from within, so we don’t compromise.
So anyone wishing to commence development in FCT should avoid quacks, they should come to the FCT Development Control Department for proper advice on how to go about it.
Mukhtar Usman Galadima, Ag. Director, FCT Development Control Department