Town planners advise Lagos on drainage masterplan

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With the rainy season fast approaching and given the perenial flooding in Lagos,especially in settlements along the coastline, consultants and town planners have called on the state government to revisit its drainage masterplan put in place a few years ago.

However, three year ago, the Lagos State Ministry of the Environment developed a drainage master plan as part of proactive measures to tackle the menace of flooding in the entire state. The plan was in partnership with Dar Al-Handasah Consultants, with headquarters in Beirut.

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The government embarked on the project to eliminate flooding in the state, especially with global climate change and its ravaging impact being witnessed across the globe. Besides, it was also as a reaction to the heavy rainfalls witnessed in recent years, which is an indication that some areas in the state may be submerged by flood if drastic measures were not put in place. Hence, the need for a well planned storm water drainage system to eliminate flooding and improve the efficiency of the land use.

At a lecture titled: Planning For Infrastructure in Lagos Mega City, held by the Association of Town Planning Consultants of Nigeria’s (ATOPCON) as part of its 2018 Annual General Meeting in Lagos, stakeholders emphasised the need for the urgent review of the masterplan. The lecture was delivered by Olajide Dosunmu, an engineer.

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Reacting to the lecture, former president, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Dr. Ajayi Bunmi, rued the neglect of a drainage masterplan of the state which was commissioned during the regime of a military governor of Lagos State, Brig. Gen. (rtd.) Mobolaji Johnson. Bunmi said the state would do itself much good if it can revisit this document, review same and implement.

A former Commissioner in the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Francisco Abosede, warned of the consequences of not having a drainage master plan in the state, especially along Lekki-Ajah axis.

Abosede, who said he “foresees a disaster along Lekki corridor because there is no visible drainage master plan,” urged the state government to as a matter of urgency, take on the old plan, review it, before considering new plans for the developing settlements in the state. Besides, he charged the state’s planning authority to always make adequate plan for waste water, warning that not having waste water plan portends danger for a mega city like Lagos.

President of ATOPCON, Mr. Idris Salako a Town Planner, reiterated the importance of a town planner as critical in advancing the goals of infrastructural development, which he reckons to be the cornerstone of sustainable development.

“You could say that planning for infrastructure is the primary foundation in urban development, including communication, energy and transport. But any weakening voice in advancing the goals of infrastructural development could only be a weakening of sustainable urban development,” he warned.

The immediate past chairman of Lagos ATOPCON, Omotayo Awomosu, noted that town planning could not be divorced from its operating environment. He, therefore, called for enactment of a new planning regulations to fill the void created since 2010 when the state government repealed the previous planning regulations.

According to him, a more efficient planning permit system is needed in Lagos. “This should be one that delivers development permits at the shortest possible time and lowest cost to applicants, as the current system does not guarantee this in spite of the ongoing ease of doing business campaign in the state,” Awomosu said.

He further explained that “the proposed electronic planning permit system should cut through the existing bureaucracy and not just move the existing inefficient manual process into the digital space,” while also advocating that all the necessary resources needed to automate the planning permit system such as enterprise/web bases, GIS and adequate base maps must be provided to make the new platform workable and responsive to the needs of the users.

Awomosu said: “Lagos State deserves a more democratic planning system. The current system is top-down, and the various gaps in policy and practice promote discretionary practices and hence, arbitrariness.”

He noted that the state government, having prepared plans for most of the districts under the Lagos Megacity Model Plans, should also prepare master plans for the entire city. “It is also necessary to emphasise the preparation of local plans for the different communities and neighbourhoods across the state,” Awomosu added.

The Chief Executive Officer of an infrastructure development company, Noble Sovrano Limited, Mr. Olajide Dosunmu, who spoke on Planning for infrastructure in Lagos megacity, said the state government must realise that the status of a megacity required an all-inclusive growth.

“Municipal infrastructure such as holistic transportation plan, Information Technology and recreation are extremely necessary for an all-inclusive growth,” he stated.

Dosunmu charged the state government to develop wastewater treatment plants and ensure that they are efficiently utilised to achieve zero tolerance for environmental pollution from homes and industries.

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