‘Criminalise non-implementation of physical development plans’
For Nigerian settlements to become growth activators, there is the need to criminalise non-implementation of approved and operative physical development plans.
This was the submission of the Managing Director, MOA Planners Limited, Moses Ogunleye at the 8th annual lecture of the College of Environmental Sciences, Bells University of Technology, Ota.
He said, the authorities must ensure committed implementation of any approved development plan and no political office holder should be able to unilaterally obliterate a plan to his/her advantage by overriding a plan through change of land use.
Over the years, physical planning or town planning has been key for effective socio-economic development; authorities do often not implement many of the approved plans hence, cities are plagued with a plethora of physical environmental and social problems. These problems range from immense traffic congestion, air pollution, high crime rate, urban slums and other challenges.
According to Ogunleye, there is need to eject realistic time, politically savvy and socio-economically responsive strategies for implementation of physical development plans as implementation remains the weakest link in the chain of urban and regional planning and as generally acknowledged, no chain can be stronger than its weakest link.
He said most of the plans that have not been implemented successfully or those that have been implemented to certain degree or have been abandoned suffered from discontinuity syndrome, otherwise known as change of government.
“Every new government cannot and should not abandon an operative development plan because it was prepared during the tenure of previous governments. This has happened in many instances in the country and remains an albatross in making a plan to work.
“How also could one describe a government that made a law and chose to do four unusual things with regards to the law as seen in the case of Nigeria thus, deliberately neglect the implementation of an extant law; choose which sections of the law to implement; initiate a process of the intention to amend an extant law through the legislature and tactically delay the completion of the amendment process. Give the reasons for its inactivity on the subject matter to the attempt to amend the Law, when it is clear to the public that the government is drifting towards “alternative does nothing” and choose not to prepare any development plan”.
Ogunleye, a past president, Association of Town Planning Consultants of Nigeria (ATOPCON), who spoke on the ‘Realities of physical development plans in Nigeria’, declared that countries with the best system of town planning are the wealthiest and most successful, stating that “it is more beneficial to integrate economic development planning with physical development planning and the outcomes of both ought to complement one another.”
He observed that Nigeria has made attempts, although, insubstantial at preparing some categories of physical development plans. However, he said the plans have been thwarted by weak implementation, which brings a lot of disappointment to stakeholders or supposed beneficiaries of the plan.
“The responsible agency or department for plan preparation should carry out a regular or annual in-house monitoring and evaluation on the implementation of the plan. A report on this can then be sent to the higher authority. A more rigorous monitoring and evaluation should be carried out by a firm of consultants at every three years of the life of a plan, if it is a long range plan of 20 years. Then, every two years if the plan has five to ten year’s period. Poor financial commitment has been a serious matter on why development plan has not been effective. This is observed for all kinds of plans – subject, action area, local or even master plans”, he stated
From professional practice and governance system angle, he said what can be established is that physical development plans, particularly master plans, structure plans and district plans, as technical as they are expected to be, have underlining their conception, preparation, implementation including funding, a lot of political undertones.
“It therefore, means that key players in plan preparation; especially town planners must be abreast of such political issues and understand their correlations, within the context of the plans to be prepared. Otherwise, existing plans will continue to be mere documents or albums best suited for libraries, shelves or stores, while new ones would not be initiated”.
“The various development plans will work and become real, if MDAs or the key organs of governments in charge of some components that will enhance the value of the plan are properly factored in at the plan preparation stage. Every MDA should buy-in into the plan and be committed to see it work. For instance, the town planner and his team must evolve a strategy that will make the agency of government in charge of water supply or parks and garden believe there is only one plan for the entire city, which is the master plan from which their own specific plan fits. Such is the synergy that will fire a plan for implementation.
The Vice-Chancellor of Bells University of Technology, Ota, Prof. Jeremiah Ojediran said the College of Environmental Sciences, which has six academic department namely, architecture, building technology, quantity surveying, surveying and geo-informatics and urban and regional planning was established with a mandate to train, produce graduates who are academically sound and well cultured; that would be able to become eminent contributors to growth and management of the built environment, not only in Nigeria, but worldwide.