Landmark Niger, UN-Habitat redevelopment scheme kicks off
Brighter days may lie around in the corner for Niger State residents, as most comprehensive urban redevelopment initiative to come on stream in recent years is finally underway after the conclusion of preparatory activities.
The four-pronged Niger State Urban Support Programme(NSUSP) is expected to deliver, by September 2019. It would deliver a pioneer state-level urban development policy in the country as well as Integrated Development Plans for Minna, the state capital and Suleja, where plans for an adjacent new pilot Smart City are also to be developed, all anchored on strengthened capacity of the relevant state institutions (MDAs).
The joint initiative is being implemented in collaboration with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and the Government of South Korea, with a project development cost of $1,920,000, which is jointly shared between the Niger State Government and UN-Habitat.
However, payment of the state’s counterpart contribution of $1, 278,000 has triggered formal commencement of the project, capping a series of high-level engagements in respect of the project over the past year. Among the high points were: Participation by the State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, in a high level Panel of Ministers at the Second International Conference on National Urban Policy in May, 2017 At OECD Headquarters Paris, France; hosting of a Scoping Mission from UN-Habitat headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, in July 2017.
Others are training mission by state MDAs to South Korea at the instance of the Korean International Trade Association (KITA) in August, 2017; and technical mission to UN-Habitat headquarters in Nairobi, by state officials led by Alhaji Ibrahim Isa Ladan, Secretary to the State Government in November, 2017.
Niger State delegation led by the Deputy Governor, Alhaji Ahmed Muhammad Ketso, also participated at the Ninth Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF9) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in February, 2018.
The State Governor Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, said, the initiative is aimed at developing the human settlements sector in a holistic, comprehensive and integrated manner through the formulation of the State Urban Development Policy. “Our aim is to ensure that the resources of the state especially land for urban development is used efficiently and effectively for the present and future generations without unnecessarily depleting good agricultural land,” he said.
The state urban development policy, which will derive its roots from the principles enshrined in the 2012 National Urban Development Policy, will involve: building a consensus among “Nigerlites” on present and future sustainable development path for the state; developing Strategies to ensure that “No Nigerlite is left Behind” in line with resolutions of the New Urban Agenda adopted at the Habitat III Conference in October, 2016.
The Integrated Development Plans (IDP) for Minna and Suleja will seek to transform the cities into urban centres that are socially inclusive, engaging, and financially self-sustaining; environmentally sound and resilient; affordable and accessible with inclusive prosperity and opportunities for all. Ultimately, it is anticipated that the scheme would be replicated in Bida, Kontagora and New Bussa.However, seeking to optimize the advantages if its proximity to Abuja, the Federal Capital, the Suleja IDP will also include an assessment of water systems: rivers, streams and floods plans within and around the city of Suleja; Develop a recovery and resettlement plan with a view to assessing the feasibility and optimal location of families displaced and affected by the 2017 floods; develop a model public space intervention: and, develop a citywide public space strategy for Suleja with a model pilot project to design public space along the river banks for the purpose of recreation, cultural, social, economic use of the residents.
Essentially, the pilot Smart City which is to be developed near Suleja along the proposed bypass between Minna-Suleja Road and Zuba, on Kaduna – Lokoja Road, will essentially ease the development pressure on the city and lay a solid foundation for the State to become a national technology and innovation hub; manufacturer of energy efficient and renewable energy systems and components; and, knowledge based economy with a vibrant mix of e-businesses.
In building the capacities of MDAs and informal institutions, notably non-state actors and Civil Society Organizations, the state government’s partnership with the South Korean Government through Korean Public Corporations and private sector, is expected to involve:
ONE: Establishment of Municipal Solid Waste Management Policy, Programme and Commercial Waste Recycling Business in the State.
TWO: Partnership with Korea Land & Housing Corporation to Formulate State Smart Cities Strategy and to Plan and Develop Pilot Smart New City in Suleja.
THREE: Provision of Adequate Urban Water Supply and Modern Management System in the Cities to Ensure Efficiency and Financial Self-Sustainability;
FOUR: Development of Smart and Affordable Housing in the Cities of Niger State.
Already, a unit to coordinate the Niger State Urban Support Programme (NSUSP) headed by a Project Manager, Professor Mustapha Zubairu, has been set up by the state government and public mobilization in support of the project is on-going. The final date for delivery of all components under the programme has been set for September, 2019.