Sustainability and City Development

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SUSTAINABILITY AND
CITY DEVELOPMENT
A critique of the Implementation of the Abuja master plan

By

DANMOLE, Taibat OLAITAN M.Sc; RTP
Department of Urban and Regional Planning,
University of Lagos, Akoka-Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria

(Being paper presented for publication by Environmental Conservation Research Team, FUT- Akure - Sept 2004)

ABSTRACT
Rapid urban expansion without effective environmental consciousness means that in virtually every urban center – from large cities and metropolitan areas to regional centers and small market towns – a substantial proportion of the population is at risk from natural and human-induced environmental hazards. A strategic approach is essential if urban areas are to enjoy all the benefits which nature can bring. This paper evaluates the concepts of the integrated city and sustainable development. It goes further to assess the general environment of the Federal Capital City, Abuja and the effects of urban growth and development on the cityscape. The environmental consequences of socioeconomic and other activities are evaluated in a bid to determine how sustainable Abuja’s urbanization is. The study reveals that the city is growing faster than the provisions of its master plan. It is fast turning into an environmental embarrassment, with developments springing up in gross violation of zoning and other planning codes. Abuja, which was supposed to be an epitome of beauty and an enlightened vision of city development, has suffered over the years from unnecessary distortions in the implementation of its master plan. The paper concludes by suggesting pragmatic strategies for achieving an integrated and ecologically balanced environment - a Sustainable Abuja City.

INTRODUCTION
Growth and development in Nigerian urban areas have been generally unplanned and haphazard. The failure of government to provide basic infrastructure, to plan for imminent growth and expansion, to implement development plans strictly, and to enforce development control has resulted in gross degradation of the environment. Given the prevalence of poverty, there has been a steady yet unchecked influx of rural migrants to the urban areas, thus leading to an increase in urban population without the institutional and infrastructure framework to bear the resultant effects. Lagos, the erstwhile federal capital, which has expanded beyond its natural boundaries, is a typical example of this phenomenon. Lagos as a federal capital suffered several drawbacks that made its continued existence as Nigeria's capital untenable. Reasons for this include: inadequate land for expansion, urban crises, lack of proper cosmopolitan orientation, lack of locational centrality and urban congestion. This led to the quest for a new national capital. The concept of Abuja as a befitting Federal Capital Territory, centrally located and without the defects of Lagos was spawned in 1975. This resulted in the convocation of the late Justice Akinola Aguda Panel whose recommendations led to the operationalization of Abuja as Nigeria Federal Capital Territory. The resultant Master Plan was prepared in a way that land use, infrastructure, housing, transportation, recreation, economic and social services are coordinated and inter-related. (Abba, 2003). Of the eight objectives of the master plan of the city, five deal essentially with environmental issues. The new capital is expected to conserve the natural and cultural environment of the territory. (FCDA, 1979). Successive governments in Abuja have neglected these principles. As such, series of distortions to the concept, direction and implementation of the master plan are prevalent today. It is therefore imperative to study the extent of the deviation and proffer pragmatic strategies for a quick containment of the situation and so avert the imminent urban ecological crisis in Abuja. The study examined the relevance of integrating natural and man-made...
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