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Imo to restore Owerri master plan as NITP laments illegal structures

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Imo state

Determined to review the original master plan of Owerri, Imo state capital, the government has invited members of Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP) to be partners in the restoration of the city.

Governor Hope Uzodimma, made the declaration recently, when national executive members of NITP, led by its President, Olutoyin Ayinde, visited him in his office.

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He expressed dismay over the alterations of the master plan, including the erection of illegal structures in strategic places in the city, and sought the partnership of NITP, in achieving the goal.

According to the governor, restoring the master plan would boost investors’ confidence, stimulate the economy, create jobs and wealth.

He reassured town planners of his administration’s interest in physical planning, promising to adhere to the instrumentality and constitutional power to address such anomaly, including paying attention to zonal and urban areas.

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The governor urged town planners to commence work in that regard, regretting that some residents do not observe hygienic practices in urban areas.

He said: “Be ready to create a vision document that will guide social and physical development in Imo state.”

On the institute’s resolve to send an urban development framework to the Federal Government, Uzodimma promised to assist them to achieve it, even at the level of the Governors’ Forum.

Earlier, NITP’s President, explained that the body is a professional association, whose members were trained to guide growth and development in human settlements.

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He said the purpose of their visit was to seek collaboration with the government to enhance physical planning in the state and achieve Goal 11 of the Agenda 2030, Sustainable Cities and Settlements.”

Ayinde, who harped on the need to imbibe physical planning in urban settlements, urged the governor to include physical planning in its policies.

MEANWHILE, the institute has bemoaned public perception of its role in poor planning and development, including the springing up of slumps in major cities.

The president, who spoke at Umuahia, Abia state capital in the course of his nationwide tour, enlightened government and stakeholders on the essence of town planning.

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According to Ayinde, who was former Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, some governors see building plan approval as town planning itself, thus making it ineffective.

“Approval of building plans is a pedestrian aspect of the work of a town planner, which is meant to be within the framework of development plans for any settlement.

“It is government that dictates the pace of cities’ growth, they make policy for public housing and when there is a gap, like we have in Nigeria, every citizen is left to self help.”

He urged planners to insist on professional inputs and collaborate with government to make the cities livable and sustainable.

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In his remarks, Abia state chapter Chairman, Mr. Kingsley Madumere, lamented that town planners are blamed for building collapse, that “a town planner is not a builder, architect or structural engineer, his work is to ensure that land uses are maintained.”

Immediate past chairman, Nelson Nwosu and the State’s Publicity Secretary, Mr. Stephen Nwazue, underscored the need for prospective property developers to consult/engage professionals and appropriate authorities before embarking on any project to avoid jeopardising their projects at every stage of development and even after completion.

During a courtesy call to the state governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, his deputy Dr. Ude Oko Chukwu, Ayinde said that the government had secured and implemented a workable master plan that will change infrastructural narratives of the state.

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Ayinde called for orderly development of human settlements and implementation of the Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning law of 1992, already domesticated in 1999.

According to him, there is need for government to invest in the review of development plans for towns and villages to address issues of flooding, accessibility, functional cities and communities.

He commended the governor for his good leadership despite obvious challenges.

Madumere, told the governor that their visit was to ascertain level of planning, to encourage physical planning and boosts morals of the members.

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