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Lagos government to regenerate four blighted communities

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A Novel scheme to tackle the proliferation of slums in the Lagos metropolis will come on stream later in the year, raising hope for the urban poor, who dwell in environments that fall short of human dignity.

The regeneration scheme is being championed by the State’s Urban Renewal Agency (LASURA) and would transform Shomolu-Bariga and Ifelodun-Ijora-Badia from years of infrastructural decay.

The communities face environmental problems, ranging from slums and informal settlements, to crime and delinquency. Over-crowding, dilapidated housing, poor potable water, insecurity, poor education infrastructure and inadequate sanitation also plague the town.

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The Guardian learnt the proposed regeneration is expected to improve the living standards, facilitate business-enabling environment of the areas, provide the basis for sustainable urban renewal activities and upgrade.  

The proposed scheme is part of the Mainland Central Model City Plan that spans four local government areas and accommodates 6.5 million residents.

Already, LASURA has invited interested consultants in the built environment, especially members of Town Planners Registration Council of Nigeria, (TOPREC) and Association of Town Planning Consultants of Nigeria (ATOPCON) to bid for the job.

The General Manager, LASURA, Ms. Ajibike Shomade, said successful consultants would be required to guide the regeneration project for each of the study areas within six months.

MEANWHILE, town planners have urged the government to include the governance aspect of physical planning in the project for sustainability purposes.

Former president, Nigerian Institute of Town planners (NITP), Dr. Bunmi Ajayi, said the expectation from the effort is that the living condition of the people must improve.

Ajayi said the scheme must bring benefits that should include, overall good planning of the areas, infrastructural and social services like, schools, health care, evolve commercial activities in the area and provision of jobs. He stressed that the people must also be involved in the governance of the area.

He said there are environmental and infrastructure deficits in communities such as bad roads, inadequate drainage, pipe borne water, inefficient waste disposal, environmental pollution and other basic facilities.

He stressed that people must be allowed to own the plan adding that it would enable them to police it and the effort would be sustainable.

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The former NITP president, Mr. Luka Achi, stressed the need for proper coordination of the exercise to achieve the desired result. He said the essence of rejuvenation is to ensure that the part of the city functions effectively as a complementary element of the remaining city.

According to him, modern facilities should be provided so that the area doesn’t descend back to a slum. Some facilities, Achi said often become outdated; hence, the drivers of the initiative must put in place facilities that could be easily maintained.

A professor of urban and regional planning, University of Lagos, Leke Oduwaye, noted that the essence of urban renewal is to rejuvenate an area that has run down beyond its capacity to contribute to economic growth of the city.

He reinforced that regeneration must balance the land use system, adding that when completed, it must infuse new energy into the neighbourhood in the form of physical outlooks and social settings as well asm ensure the government makes more money through taxes from facilities.

Oduwaye, who doubles as an architect, urged the government to tackle issues that concern the selected areas.

“When an area is improved, it would enhance the economic power of the people and reduce the tendency for people to commit crime. The initiative attract property developers and investors due to its brighter economic returns as land value in the communities increases,” he said.

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However, he stated that people are generally reluctant to urban regeneration because of dislocation effects as well as the culture shock it would bring.

He said it might force people to relocate to areas where they would be able to afford the rent, change source of income and continue with the previous social settings.

The Lagos State Urban Renewal Law 2015 – 2025 gives government the power to clear areas considered unfit for people to live and to upgrade such places.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr. Idris Salako, told The Guardian that government is highly optimistic that the efforts made would change the present status of the blighted areas to the desired “Greater Lagos”, where every system and services are at levels of global best practices.

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