Planners allege Enugu govt’s withdrawal from 9th Mile master plan scheme

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• Contract was awarded by past administration, says official Plans by the Enugu State government to ensure orderly urban centres in terms of land use, economic development, natural and cultural resources, public facilities and transportation may have hit the rocks, following inability of the authorities to kick-start the 9th Mile master plan project.

The 9th Mile Corner is one of the fastest growing settlements in the state. From its beginning, it acted as a transit camp for travellers between the eastern and the northern parts of the country in the early 1930. It later developed into a sprawling industrial settlement, home to industries such as Nigerian Brewery Plc Plant, AMA Brewery Plant, Seven-Up Bottling Company Production Plant, Nigeria Bottling Company (NBC) Plant and other associated concerns.

The area’s industrial activities attracted haulage vehicles, private cars and tricycles that parked on both sides of the roads and impeding free flow of traffic. The Guardian learnt that contract to prepare a master plan for 9th Mile and its environment was awarded by the Sullivan Chime administration in 2012.

The administration funded the preparation of the master plan and appointed a consultant for the project.

A source told The Guardian that: “The job was awarded to a non-town planning firm, while a former commissioner in the state’s Ministry of Lands and Urban Development, denounced the award to a non-town planning firm and insisted the right thing should be done.

“When a new administration took over, the funding for the project stopped. Up till now, it is still that way. If you go to 9th Mile area today, developments are going on haphazardly apart from those covered by planning schemes approved recently by the government.”

Reacting to the development, professional town planners have berated successive governments in Enugu State for abandoning the contract.

They argued that had the plan succeeded, it would have ensured orderly development in the area.

The experts urged the present administration in the state to reconsider the projectmaster plan to reap the benefits of the physical development planning in the state.

Speaking on the development, a town planner, Mr. Ogbonna Chime told The Guardian that the 9th Mile area of Enugu is a development centre, where growth is seen in all sectors but due to the absence of a master plan, developments are not done in a controlled manner.

He noted that the present administration in the state don’t deem it necessary to continue with the project, instead the government is embarking on urban renewal, which is becoming an issue in the state.

“Although, many benefits were achieved through the committee set up on urban renewal as at that time. When it comes to the master plan, it is the soul of orderly urban development; the government has not paid any attention to that. The master plan had been abandoned and nobody is talking about it.

“This is not the best for the 9th Mile as a fast growing area in the state.

“This lackadaisical attitude to the master plan is not only peculiar to Enugu state; it is the same thing in the entire South East region. What the governments are doing is implementing planning schemes, which are not the same thing as the master plan.

“A master plan is holistic, deals with population, industrial development, residential, commercial and every other land use as well as human activities.”

He noted that had the 9th Mile master plan been implemented; there would have been enormous benefits.

Ogbonna said: “The land value of the area will go up, the original land owners will benefit from the land value. The landowners will make money. People who are non-indigenes will have a guarantee on their investments, it improves the status of individuals, jobs will be created and the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state government will rise. It is also a mark of development.

He further said it is possible for government to revitalise the 9th Mile master plan, but will require huge costs because people went back to their old ways and started developing their land haphazardly since the plan didn’t go on.

If government will revamp the plan, he said there would be a need to accommodate irregularities already created.

He said: “If the government thinks of demolishing the structures, it goes with costs and people will have to be compensated. Anybody who is enlightened enough will know that the way to go is to prepare a master plan for an area before it begins to develop.

The president, Association of Town Planning Consultant of Nigeria (ATOPCON), Muyiwa Adelu, observed that government’s lethargy to master plan most times is due to ignorance by most of the states’ governors.

He said the benefit of implementing a master plan like the 9th Mile far outweighs the refusal by government, as the implementation will bring development to people and government.

Reacting, a senior official of the Enugu state government told The Guardian that the 9th Mile master plan was designed by the previous administration, adding that the present government is not responsible for the contract and its subsequent implementation.

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