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World Habitat Day: Fashola Restates Commitment To Building A Mega-City For Harmonious Living

Nov 27, 2008 - Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Thursday joined other leaders across the globe to mark the World Habitat Day with an assurance that his administration would build a Lagos Mega-city that is harmonious for both living and working for the citizenry.

Governor Fashola, who spoke at the Adeyemi-Bero Memorial Auditorium, Alausa venue of the occasion, also launched a Planning Information Handbook published by the Government to assist developers in the processing of development permits in the State.

Addressing a capacity crowd of professional town planners, chief executives of private sector organizations, government officials, market women and men as well as school children, Governor Fashola said there was need for the people to adhere to the development plans of the State Government in order to achieve a harmonious and livable city.

The Governor said development in all of the other jurisdictions around the world which people often referred to fondly were as a result of conscious planning and conscious implementation, pointing out that it is only when government is aware of the location of people that it can plan adequately for them.

Drawing analogy from the planning of a party, Governor Fashola declared, “It is only when we know you are there and you submit your building for planning approval and we know that we have authorized somebody to build a 10, storey building there that we can predict that there are 50 people living there, we can predict how much water they will need, how much refuse they will generate and the number of vehicles and men to be deployed in that area”.

According to the Governor who quoted from the renowned expert Wolfgang Nowak, who wrote the Forward to a Monograph titled Endless City, “Cities have always had magnetic pull even in the early days when cities were protected with walls in order to control immigration”, pointing out that people living in the cities have always enjoyed more freedom and more possibilities for development.

Still quoting the expert, Governor Fashola continued, “Cities are the great common task for all nations. They are threatened by scarce resources, environmental problems, new diseases, uncontrolled growth and migration and by ethnic and religious conflicts stemming from the despair of disappointed immigrants”, adding, “The irony for me is that everybody goes into the city looking for good life but they end up in slums”.

Describing the city as centre of innovation, industrialization, and modernization Governor Fashola, however warned, “But where they are neglected, unplanned and underdeveloped, the city can become a place of despair rather than habitat of hope and better life”.

Explaining further the need for adherence to Government’s developmental policies, the Governor said “increasing urbanization of the world’s habitat zones has imposed on policy makers at all levels the essence of understanding the power of the city as a catalyst for national development”, adding, however, “If we want the city to remain a driving force behind human development, we must re-invent it now, otherwise, there is a tendency that it becomes the final stage of human civilization in the 21st century”.

According to him, what is happening in Lagos State today is not strange with the population of Lagos growing from mere 25, 000 in 1866 to 18 million in 2008 due to the same magnetic pull characteristic of the city, adding, “ As more and more people move to the urban centres, the challenge of town planners becomes increasingly difficult to provide solutions that will sustain life and make complex urban human agglomeration functional and life sustaining”.

He said Government would continue to insist on adherence to its development plans because “It is no longer debatable that our planet is in peril by the way we have used nature’s resources. While the extent of peril may be a source of debate and require continuous investigation. It is beyond argument that we cannot continue to act the way we acted in the last 100 years”.

The Governor, who gave example of the natural disasters in places like Brazil, New Orleans and other areas of the world, further declared “we face dangers from depleting Ozone layers, rising sea levels, high levels, high carbon emissions which have resulted in or precipitated sudden weather changes and brought on natural or unnatural disasters”.

He said, in spite of the growing population in the city over the years, infrastructures have not grown in the same proportion, adding that all the infrastructures like Ikorodu road, Festac, Victoria Island, and so many other monument that we see today, had become inadequate for the ever increasing population.

According to the Governor, the theme of this year\s World Habitat Day which is Harmonious Cities”, was re-christened “Towards a Harmonious Lagos Mega City” with the aim of harmonizing all the imbalances within Lagos State, adding “ a city cannot equally be harmonious if some resources and opportunities are concentrated in a particular area while others remain impoverished and deprived”.

“The problems of urban congestion slum redevelopment refuse collection and management acute traffic congestion, inadequate transportation, housing short fall, urban infrastructural deficiencies, general insecurity of life and property, have been of major concern to us and have been instructive to our policies, programmes and implementation strategies”, the Governor said.

He said to address all the imbalances, the State Government has adopted a 10 point agenda which includes preparation of model city plan, road construction/expansion, establishment of Lekki Free Trade Zone, re-location of some incompatible activities to more suitable sites for efficiency, environmental upgrading, among others.

“Let me assure you that this Government has the interest of its populace at heart, and has been responsive in providing succour to their needs. Towards transparent and inclusive participation in planning, the State Government is also using this occasion to launch planning information to guide the public on requirements by the various planning offices” , the Governor said, adding that soon the handbook would be published for other agencies of government.

Thanking the organizers of the event, the Governor expressed gratitude to the numerous partners, corporate, public and individuals who have cooperated with the State Government in the process of sustaining the hope of the general citizenry of Lagos State and transformation to a livable city.

Earlier in his welcome address, Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Town Planner Francisco Abosede, said the Planning Information Handbook has been prepared to assist the developer in the processing of development permit in the State, adding that it was a demonstration of the transparency and inclusive governance under the current administration.

According to him, “the theme Towards A Harmonious Lagos Mega City is no doubt germane to the ideals of the development programme as contained in the 10-point agenda of his Excellency, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) which is equally tailored towards the objective Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of the United Nations”.

Also in attendance were the President of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners Chief Napoleon E. Osayemi, other professional town planners and bankers including the Chief Executive Officer of Oceanic Bank Plc Mrs. Cecelia Ibru who was represented by a director in the bank, among other professionals who were scheduled to deliver papers at the occasion.


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