NITP proposes restructuring of town planning services in Lagos
Worried about the persisting spate of sharp practices in land development, illegal occupation and the activities of land grabbers, across the state, planners have proposed the restructuring of government’s physical development services towards bringing planning departments to the local government level.
They said it would serve to enhance timely intervention and proper monitoring of land use activities to halt illegal developments that tend to pose a threat to safety and livability of neighbourhoods.
Speaking on the occasion of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP) 50th anniversary public lecture, chairman of the occasion, Bunmi Ajayi recalled that the state at inception had local planning authorities and that it needs to revert to having them again for more effective monitoring of developments across the state.
“Lagos State has always had Planning Authorities at the local government level but sometime along the line someone just came up and scrapped it. So, what we are saying is we want to get it back to local governments, make them part and parcel of it. When we had local planning authorities the local government was actively part and parcel of it, and the money was going into the pocket of government.
“And that local planning authority coordinates all the activities of every local government. But what we now have as local planning offices are still being coordinated by the state town planning office, the local government has no input. And that’s why a lot of the times, monitoring is not very grassroots inclined,” he stated.
He told journalists that there are lots of advantages to be derived from such an arrangement: “Each local government will now be in its area to ensure that it is made livable, because a situation whereby everybody has to come to Alausa, even when somebody is doing something in Epe is not very effective. And that is some of the problem we are having: before you see it, before you take action, it’s a long time. But if there is a local planning authority in Epe, that local planning authority can remove offending structures, can guide where you put whatever you want to put; whatever development. Rather than still come to Alausa to come and get permission to even demolish a foundation. So you will be able to take immediate action and you reduce the problem for LABSCA, reduce the problem for everybody that is involved in monitoring developments in the state.”
Ajayi revealed that proposal for the organizational restructure is with the governor awaiting approval. “We have put forward the proposal to the government. From what I understand the state legislature is interested in making a law for the creation of the local planning authority.
The ministry has sent it to the governor. It is now left for the governor to send it to the legislature. That is the information I have and we hope that very soon the governor will send it to the legislature.”
Also commenting, the Lagos State Urban Renewal Agency, Mr. Lateef Sholebo, pointed out that the 50th anniversary celebration of the institute would be a good opportunity and time to bring planning to the local government level through legislation. He said NITP should seize the moment and act.
Delivering the anniversary lecture, speaker of the Lagos State house of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, describing the impact of the profession as ‘consequential’, emphasized the importance of the profession in national development and reasoned that a lot is still expected of the institute for the future regarding the development of the Nigerian landscape.
He revealed the coming of a new law, which will guide all matters of land use offence in the future. His words: “The much talked about of all the laws that the house has made so far is the Lagos State Properties Protection Law (2016), which is meant to prohibit forceful entry and illegal occupation of landed properties in the state. The law provides for prohibition of forceful land takeover, entry by force, illegal occupation of property, use of land agents, illegal use of law enforcement agent, encroaching with a weapon, sales of property without authority, and professional misconduct among others by the ‘omo oniles’ (land grabbers) with heir attendant punishments as regards the particular offence.
He admonished the professionals to always strive to uphold town planning laws as they are crucial to the progress of the state. “There is corruption and it knows no limits. People want to by-pass the law. The problem is not with the law but its implementation. It now lies on you the planners to uphold the law and stop compromising. I appeal to you to do your bit. If we stop compromising everything will work better. TPL laws are crucial. Adhere strictly to them so that Lagos state can develop like it should.”