The Chairman, Abuja chapter of Nigeria Institution of Civil Engineers (NICE), Engr. Ben Ossy Oko has stated that the greatest challenge with Nigeria is non-compliance to the master plan particularly in Abuja. In a chat with Housing News in Abuja, he noted that Abuja is the only city in Nigeria that was designed before government started providing infrastructures.
He maintained that Cambera, the capital of Australia was the first capital city in the world that was designed before building infrastructure followed by Brazilia, the capital of Brazil and the third Abuja. “If you visit these cities, you will see the way they have been able to follow the implementation of the master plan but in Nigeria, reverse is the case”.
Oko stated that NICE has been providing support and professional guidance to the government given that 80 percent of development in Abuja was carried out by civil engineers. He lamented that the sprawling slum settlements in the city was due to the increasing population at the centre and economic downturn that affected the provision of infrastructure This he said energised residents to seek alternative ways of habitation.
“From the Abuja master plan, we are not supposed to have soakaways, electric poles or build houses anywhere without the presence of infrastructure but today; if you visit places like Kuje, Lugbe, Nyanya, Gwagwalada, you will notice the absence of infrastructure”.
The chairman pointed out that government had in the past built mass housing to control illegal settlements as seen in places like Apo and Pegi. Oko disclosed that their job as a professional body is to advise the government on best ways to reduce slums which is to channel resources towards speedy development of the city. He further pleaded with federal government to develop alternative means of transportation by investing heavily on railways instead of constructing many roads.
“If we have functional railway system in Abuja, somebody living in Kaduna, Keffi, Abaji doesn’t need to live in the city centre. All they need to do is to enter the train in the morning to the city and when they closes for the day, they will enter similar train back home which is what is applicable in every part of the world”. Oko was optimistic that the institution would continue to advocate for increased alternative means of transportation adding that their job as professional engineers is to advise government on people oriented policies.