Efforts by the Federal Capital Territory Administration to restore the Abuja masterplan will lead to the demolition of more illegal buildings, ABIODUN SANUSI reports

The Federal Capital Territory Administration is poised to restore the Abuja masterplan and the development has led to the demolition of several buildings.

However, the administration has however warned that more buildings will still have to give way if it is to restore the city’s masterplan.

The Senior Special Assistant on Monitoring, Inspection and Enforcement to the Federal Capital Territory Minister, Mr Attah Ikharo, in an interview notes that none of the owners of the over 1,000 illegal buildings demolished by the FCT administration will be compensated, adding that illegality deserves no compensation.

He confirms that the FCTA has demolished over 1,000 illegal buildings in Abuja since the beginning of the year.

He said, “This year alone, we have demolished over 1,000 illegal building structures in the FCT, yet we’re yet to demolish 20 per cent of the illegal structures existing in Abuja. We have done so much, yet much more needed to be done if we really want to restore the territory to its original master plan.

“Despite working every day, we have not even started touching some places, by the time we touch those places, the FCT would be better than this. There is massive work going on, and we’ll touch everywhere, especially those developers who erect buildings without plans.

“Our aim is to restore the master plan. This city is not a city that evolved on its own. People sat down in Lagos, inspired by General Murtala Muhammed, to plan a new city from scratch. Hence, it will be wrong to neglect or destroy the planning and all the efforts and money put into planning the FCT by the founding fathers. Some of these plans have been distorted today but if we’re able to eradicate those distortions, we’ll be able to restore Abuja to its masterplan, and this will correct and help address the issue of insecurity in the FCT.

“Most of these criminals live in these illegal buildings, and sometimes carry out their criminal activities there. But with the continued demolition, and the efforts of the police to comb the bushes and uncompleted buildings, we’ve been able to rid the FCT of criminal elements to a large extent.”

Ikharo noted that there would be no compensation for owners of illegal buildings demolished by the FCTA.

“We don’t and we can’t compensate for illegality. There’ll be no compensation for owners of illegal buildings that we’ve demolished, nor for the ones that we would demolish.”

The PUNCH reports that in July this year, the FCT Minister, Muhammad Bello, has ordered a massive demolition and clean-up in Abuja to dismantle illegal structures distorting the capital city’s master plan, and to tackle environmental degradation.

Ikharo disclosed this in July this year, when he led the City Sanitation Squad of the FCTA while embarking on the displacement of several illegal car marts, mechanic workshops, worship place, roadside traders, and a notorious scavenger’s colony.

He said the ongoing aggressive and massive sanitation around Utako, Jabi parks, Wuye district and its environs, was a ministerial directive to tackle environmental degradation and other illegalities in the districts, the move is coming on the heels of the recent inspection around the districts by the FCT minister who expressed displeasure that the administration’s favourable disposition to the rule of law had been greatly abused by residents.

Ikharo bemoaned the activities of some lawless persons that were gradually turning the Utako and Jabi parks areas to places that jeopardise both the health and security of the city. He also lamented that even the scavengers that took over nearby undeveloped plots around the districts had added growing of cannabis to their other illegal activities.

He said, “What is going on here is a total clean-up in Utako, Wuye and Tunde Idiagbon connecting points. The minister gave us the order and we started the joint operations this morning. At this place, we are removing scavengers, known as Baban Bola, you could be shocked to see mature grown cannabis. We have been seeing them regularly within the Baban Bola colonies. It is not safe for people to stay here, especially when Baban Bola take over an expanse of land like this.

“Both environmental, security and planning issues are the reasons we are carrying out this massive clean-up exercise, and I believe the whole of this road stretch will wear a new look in the next one week.

Ikharo noted the administration discovered that the shanties were heavily harbouring criminals, leaving the government with no other choice than to come and clear them, adding that the number of shanties in some parts of the city was worrisome and the administration would not relent its efforts to rid the city of shanties.

Also, an Assistant Director of Enforcement in Abuja Environmental Protection Board, Kaka Bello, said the clean-up had become necessary following reports of security breaches coming from the scavengers’ colony. Bello, who admitted that the areas pose challenges, explained that the administration’s resolve to sustain the clean-up exercise was justifiable, as the areas had been severely sanitised, but the lawless occupants refused to give up.

He explained that the administration had reached out to the owners of the empty plots with several notices, and might take action if such owners refused to commence development after three months.

He said, “This is a place with a lot of challenges. The Baban Bola colony currently constitutes environmental and security challenges and that is why we are here. We came here yesterday to give them notice. The measures we have are to ensure continuous enforcement. Just as you clean your house every day, we will continue to enforce compliance. Besides, the FCTA has directed that all plot owners should come and take ownership of their property within three months.”

In August this year, Senior Special Assistant to the FCT Minister on Security Matters, Abu Mohammed, told journalists that most of the shanties “are safe havens for miscreants, armed robbers, kidnappers and drug dealers.’’

Mohammed added that the administration is bent on curtailing the menace of Okada riders in the city, adding, “The ban on them in the municipality introduced in 2006 is still in force.’’ He stated that the enforcement of the ban was still on, and thousands of motorcycles seized were being crushed quarterly.

“You are aware that most of the riders are nuisance, causing accidents here and there, and it is the popular means of transportation for bandits and armed robbers. Miscreants also use it to snatch bags and other valuables from commuters,” he said.

Similarly, Mohammed said the administration had ensured the removal of scavengers from the streets of the FCT.

“Due to public outcry on the increasing activities of scavengers and the menace of vandalism and theft of private and public property, including critical national infrastructure, Baba Bola has been outlawed in the FCT.

“It was as a result of these efforts that Bello directed all relevant secretariat departments and agencies to work jointly and close down identified scrap markets (Panteka), where the transmission lines and other stolen infrastructures are sold. Consideration is also being given to stemming the demand side of the scavenging activities by targeting the end users. It is strongly believed that if the end users are identified and punished, it will curtail the rampant cases of vandalising critical national assets,” he said.

Security agencies combing bushes, shanties

Our correspondent observed that since the FCT Police Commissioner ordered men and officers of the command to ensure tight security due to the incessant report of security threats, the police had continued to comb bushes, uncompleted buildings, and other criminal hideouts to eject suspected criminals. It was also observed that the FCT had become relatively peaceful and secure for about two months now since the order was given.

The FCT police spokesman, Josephine Adeh, in an interview with our correspondent, said, “Our officers are not relenting as they comb bushes and uncompleted buildings day and night to rid the FCT of criminal elements.”

Firm to build 10,000 housing units

Amid the demolition of illegal building structures, an indigenous real estate firm, Zoe New Dawn Nigeria Limited, has said it will be targeting a total of 10,000 housing units in the FCT to bridge the housing deficit in the capital. Announcing its novel smart homes project tagged, ‘Hill City Community’ at a ceremony in Abuja, the chairman of the firm, Akpa Achema, said the firm would  achieve that feat through partnership with Casa Cubana Homes to deliver on its mandate of satisfying the growing need for affordable and luxurious living.

He noted that the mass housing project would feature a variety of building designs and smart homes systems for everyone regardless of their financial capabilities, adding that it was necessary that stakeholders put all hands on deck to curb the rising housing deficit by addressing the needs of the less-privileged.

Achema said, “I have always prayed to God to help me find a lasting solution to the housing difficulties our dear hardworking civil servants and those that the society has classified as low-income earners face. They stabilise the economy, yet cannot build houses because of the cost. This is why we partnered Casa Cubana, chaired by my brother Obi Cubana to come up with this project.

“We have always built for the high and mighty in places like Guzape, Jabi, Wuye, Asokoro, Katampe, and recently our new Dawn and Casa Cubana Golf Resort in Kukwaba. But this project is different from others. This is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to our fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters for their dedication and passion to our nation. The project will be located in a fast developing and secure district in the FCT.”

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