The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), Nigeria group has called for the development of stronger cities that easily absorb urban shocks and take into cognizance lives of residences irrespective of their physical challenges.This was the submission of experts who gathered during the group’s Continuous Professional Development series (CPD), entitled, “Building stronger cities, a review of the revised Lagos masterplan” which held in Lagos.
Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mrs. Dapo Thomas at the forum, explained that building stronger cities is actually more than having a master plan but having master plans/designs that take into cognizance the lives of people. She stated that as an operative development plan, masterplan is a living document, hence, the need to keep revising and reviewing it.
“Building stronger cities would also mean building communities. Lagos Government recently created the Lagos State Resilience Office. That means, we are building against shocks and stresses that could militate against the growth of cities,”she said. According to her, Lagos is one of the 100 resilience cities of the Rockefeller foundation. This, she said, places more pressing demand to keep building and changing things in line with the dynamism of human existence.
“We need to look at all facets of life, it is not only about the master plan, the master plan is actually a cross cutting issue with all of our ministries because they must have an input. Right now, the Ministry of Works has inaugurated what is called, the Masterplan Champions and this is because we recognize that there would continue to be changes in governance and in life”.
“We must be thinking about other people, particularly the disable, how can they live a well and meaningful life and achieve their goals despite their disabilities. We have to incorporate them in all our master plans. We also need to think about how to put hospitals in place, where they are easily accessible.
These are the things that we keep reviewing in our master plans”, she explained. Contributing, a town planner, Ayodele Adediran said if the cities must be built, it must build on something. He said master plans are not popular in the sense that they look restrictive, suggesting that they must be making flexible.
“As far back as 1928, master plans became popular because of the plague that broke out, claiming lives just like the building collapse. Since then, we have been the one planning while others take care of sanitation or environment and schemes of development. We used to have stronger institution framework”.
In the last 20 years, Lagos has been faithful in ensuring that regimes of preparing master plan is operational. We have to give credit to the state. Every part of Lagos is almost covered with some documents that could form basis of master plan”, he said.
Adeniran who is also NITP National Legal Adviser, said masterplans must be in relevance with the new urban agenda, inter-modal challenges of the cities and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as plans will not stand in isolation but inter-connected with other goals.Expounding on the issue, a former Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development in Lagos State, Toyin Ayinde said like most designs, master plans must start from the general to the specific and give the whole view of development.
“If developments on a master plan tilt to a particular side, you will see a shaking and the design would fall. This is what happens when you develop Lagos Island more than Alagbado.
You think of a masterplan as a plan, but it is not a physical thing but also deals with economic issues, social and sociological issues in the city system. We must bring our plans to the level of neighborhood that people could easily identify their house from the land use plan,” he said.
Ayinde who doubles as NITP first Vice President, added, “master plan can be changed because a city is a living organism subject to an origin, growth, a decline and death and that is why we must take the right decision. There is nothing that can’t be changed. That is why some uses would change over time.
A good master plan must take into consideration law and order because if you don’t have law and order, you can’t really implement your master. Probably this is why you have some break down of law and order in some places. The masterplan itself is a law passed and gazette.”
Earlier, the Chairman, RICS Nigeria Group, Mr. Gbenga Ismail explained that the CPD focused on reviewing the planning challenges and effectiveness of the master plan in Lagos State.“The theme “Building Stronger Cities” therefore represents learning points that draw on failures, challenges and solutions. Lagos is currently challenged, and if we can solve the issues prevalent then this can be taken to other states. It is important that our cities begin to work for us,” he said