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Planners task practitioners to tackle urban decay in Nigerian cities

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NITP President, Lekwa Ezutah

To make the cities more livable, the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP) and other professionals have restated the need for government at all levels to develop urban development innovations that propagate the ideals of sustainable human settlements devoid of slums, where people could live, work and thrive.

NITP President, Lekwa Ezutah who made the call at the institutes’ national conference, lamented that organic and spontaneous developments without planning, have left the cities disjointed in growth, urban sprawl, overwhelming decay environment which is critically infected by insecurity and other social vices.

He expressed worries that authorities have paid little attention to physical planning noting that ad-hoc measures taken by public agencies when emergencies arise to address the effect of climate change and other environmental disasters are far cries from achieving viable mitigation measures and sustainable development goals.

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“There is a need for a greater deal of urban renewal for cities that take recognition for re-configuring the outdated and decrepit physical structures of the city that includes, old buildings as well as the obsolete infrastructure and utilities to make way for more modern, efficient and aesthetically pleasing settlements. Nigeria is yet to join the League of Nations that have effectively embraced the tenets of sustainable development goals of the new urban agenda”, he stated.

The president, Association of Town Planning Consultants of Nigeria (ATOPCON) Niyi Odetoye on his part, said the cities are facing an ever-increasing demand for housing, social amenities, green space and infrastructure to accommodate the rising population. The situation, he posited, has over the years led to urban decay thereby creating urban sprawls/slums and blighted communities in our urban centers. 

Speaking on the theme, “Regenerating Nigerian Cities for Sustainable Development”, he declared that it’s the collective responsibility as town planners to initiate projects, policies, and plans that could reverse the process of economic, social and physical decay in urban areas to drive sustainability and inclusive development of cities.

“It is time town planners took up core responsibility of putting in place Development Plans that will galvanize regeneration/redevelopment of our cities for the benefit of all which thus support UN-Habitat’s mission towards transformative change in cities and human settlements, to leave no one and no place behind. The theme of this year’s conference could not be apter at this point considering the problems and challenges of Nigeria’s urban built environment as a result of physical deterioration and infrastructure decadence. The task before us as an institute towards the regeneration of our cities is enormous”, he said.

He stressed the need for practitioners in the public sector, the town planning consultants under the auspices of ATOPCON to be partners in progress as no one could conveniently turn around the chaotic state of the cities.

Odetoye said: “ The profession is such a technical and political process concerned with the design and development of land use within the totality of the built environment.

“Therefore, as practitioners in the profession, we need to carry out research, analysis and strategic thinking towards formulation, recommendation, and implementation of policy that will impact positively towards sustainable growth of our cities.  It is only our collective effort that could make the needed change”.

For the Human Settlement Officer, Regional Office for Africa, United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat), Dr. Omoayena Odunbaku who presented a lead paper ‘innovation and sustainable urban development in Nigerian human settlement’ advised professionals to adopt and integrate technological advancements and innovation as it present unprecedented opportunity to accelerate the development and regeneration of Nigerian cities.

According to her, globalisation, information, and communication technology influences every profession, hence, it was imperative that practitioners incorporate new ideas into traditional ways of doing things, to achieve maximum impact and drive the desired transformation.

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