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LASURA identifies 91 slum settlements, gets new GM

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Sholebo

Mr. Lateef Sholebo

BEYOND the recognition of nine major blighted areas in the Lagos metropolis by the World Bank, the Lagos State Urban Renewal Agency (LASURA), has revealed that 91 slum settlements scattered all over the state have been identified.

To this end, the agency has come up with new approaches to tackle the slums, which the newly appointed General Manager of the agency, Mr. Lateef Sholebo, said has become worrisome and therefore need a more pragmatic method.

As paths to a seamless urban regeneration and redevelopment, Sholebo listed the restructuring of the communities; creating urban growth boundaries; introduction of tax increment financing; regional approach and involvement of public/private participation (PPP).
The GM said that the agency would ensure its programme is community-based and driven. “We will develop a plan for each affected locations, give the plan to the community where the residents would discuss the plan and offer suggestions.
“This is how it is being done all over the world and the essence is to ensure quality redevelopment and regeneration. Since it is the people we intend to serve, we must carry them along in the redevelopment process, said LASURA general manager.

Explaining the theory of urban growth boundary, he said the principle, as being done in the western world is that, certain location would be earmarked for physical development for the residents and that such development will not pass the delineated boundary.
“Outside the boundary, we can then have amenities such as school, hospital, recreational ground, park and so on. This is because to allow sprawl development is to invite chaos”, he said.

On tax increment financing, Sholebo said the principle behind it, is that where a slum is identified, as a development agency, LASURA will come and redevelop the area. “With the exercise properly carried out, it would attract investors, and property in the area will carry higher value.

For example, what is accruable to government before the exercise is say, N50milion as revenue, there is certainly the possibility of N150 million revenue coming to the government. This means more money to redevelop another location and maintaining the infrastructure”, he added.
The involvement of private public participation is also on the table. Although, Sholebo was quick to add that government must be proactive to prevent private investors extorting the masses in the event that such investors carry out any developmental project.

For example, if an investor provide social amenity like water, shopping mall or recreational facilities, the residents in the area must benefit maximally. The essence of their activities is not to make business out of people’s misfortune, though, they are in business to make profit. But in this case government will be in charge.
“Besides, before we allow private investors to engage in any developmental project, they will give us their conceptual approach for verification. Indeed, communities where such project will take place would have inputs”, he assured.

Another initiative we would embark upon is mixed income development, where different groups in the social strata would be living together in the same environment. The idea here is that those not too financially endowed would have a changed mentality, because they may likely be influenced by the social, environment and economic awareness.
“For instance, if they look at the way their neighbours are disposing their refuse in a more hygienic way, they would be challenged to follow suit”.

He said government is conscious of the megacity challenges confronting Lagos, especially, in the area of transportation, adding that transport sector is quite germane to the successful management of any megacity.
“This is one area that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is not taking lightly and it is obvious that with several road projects on ground, the problem is under control”, said Sholebo.

Allaying the fear that residents in the slum locations may not be favourably disposed to government’s regeneration programmes because of lack of trust, he said that was why the approach is citizens’ participation in nature.
“In our own case, the local government officials, community development associations (CDA), human rights group and other interests would be included.

There is going to be a lot of sensitization programmes, workshops and seminars where every issue involved will be thoroughly discussed. So, issue of trust or no trust will be out of place”.


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