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Disquiet as developers allege Lagos masterplan distortion

By Bertram Nwannekanma
02 March 2020   |   3:32 am
Although made to determine the shape of the urban environment, experts in the built environment said lack of adherence to Lagos master plans and the failure inherent in master plans

Although made to determine the shape of the urban environment, experts in the built environment said lack of adherence to Lagos master plans and the failure inherent in master plans have paved way for political and pecuniary abuse of the master plans, thereby generating chaos in the state.

On the arguments that changes in master plans are bound to occur, they said wondered how investors could be made to buy into the perceived comfort of a masterplan by selling to the public as investment plots of land with an offer of common spaces that should enhance their common business good; only to jettison that master plan once they are financially locked in.  
Property developers and investors said the state government should rise to live up to their responsibility by curbing the widespread distortions of masterplans in Lagos.

According to them, the abuse of master plans as evident in the indiscriminate construction of all sorts of buildings anywhere land can be found without zoning compliance is the reason religious worship centres are found in-between residential buildings as well as commercial outcrops in front of residences. The effects are noise and waste pollution.

“Due to the difficulties in navigating the city end to end, Lagosians simply expect chaos everywhere they go in traffic congestions.

“Under these conditions, crime is bound to escalate. The failure of the Lagos master plan is a failure on the part of the State to provide adequate safety and security for life, property and investments and a failure to improve the well-being of residents. Life expectancy for Lagosians due to a failed master plan should be of concern to the state government”. They said.

Elucidating on the distortions, a major developer, who pleaded for anonymity, recalled how the Lekki Northern Business District (NBD) parking facility, meant for the general parking of over twenty business land investors in the Lekki Master plan was sold to a totally independent developer with no prior vested interest in any of the NBD lands under the last administration of Lagos State. 

According to him, the common parking facility has today become a built-up community of block of flats, while the investors who erected their business buildings as planned in accordance with the master plan around the common parking space have nowhere to park their cars.

This, he said, has caused traffic congestion at Olubunmi Owa Crescent in Lekki Phase One. 

Also, a Lagos based architect and investor in the area, Dr. Tony Alabi, said: “developers of high-end properties on government layouts operate with one set of building regulation rules under a discretional best-of-judgment aura and a myriad of privileges; while the developers of low-end properties in other areas of Lagos operate under another set of building regulation rules and best-of-judgment aura.

“Dualism in the governance of the city of Lagos dates back to the colonial era when European Quarters had a set of rules for building regulation and others (Native Quarters) were classified under the Township Ordinance with another set of rules, he said.

Dr. Alabi emphasized that Lagos is unable to decolonize herself from the moribund master plans that remain inadequate for its modern cosmopolitan and elitist population”.

He lamented that the operating and building regulatory rules seem to have been designed as if the effect of environmental and scientific factors, and the physical qualities of land on which buildings are erected changes with affluence and social status in Lagos.

Multiple visits to the Northern Business District of Lekki brought clarity to a few of the prevailing issues. It was observed that the human and traffic congestion generated from the businesses has reached unbearable points for business owners. The business district is fast becoming like any other one in Lagos suffering from the abuse of the master plan with the characteristic street chaos. This dire situation seems to repeat itself all over Lagos. There is a widening gap between master plans and realities of land-use in Lagos.

In his advice to the current Lagos State Governor, His Excellency Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Dr. Tony Alabi said, “the Governor would have to tackle many of these master plan induced issues beyond the action of demolition alone. Lagos has a bad history of lopsided demolitions perceived by the native poor squatters as an attack on their fundamental human rights. Decolonization of the Lagos Masterplan is strategic to the well-being of Lagosians.

“The governor has to consider more proactive and civil approaches associated with his intervention plans to remedy the situation for the common good of investors, residents, developers, and visitors”, he added.

But, speaking on this development, the Assistant Director, Public Affairs, Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mukaila Sanusi, said there is a need for residents and property owners to formalise their complaints through the ministry for proper action.

He, however, noted that there are so many structures across the state which were erected done without approvals.

He said: “ It is happening everywhere in Lekki and even in Ikoyi, where people are supposed to be enlightened but they are building without approvals.

“Even with approval, some buildings are built illegally because they do not conform to what was approved.

“When it is not in compliance with what is approved then they are illegal”, he added.

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