Abuja: Expanding the City Frontiers

President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration expands the Federal Capital City by opening new districts

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Fairway Estate

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Karmo Residential New Districts

For more than three decades, Abuja and the Federal Capital Territory have stagnated in terms of infrastructural development until the coming of President Goodluck Jonathan administration. The number of districts remained as they were and the engineering infrastructure in the city was left to age without any noticeable plan for maintenance and renewal.

But the Transformation Agenda of the Jonathan administration made it imperative that the FCT Minister would have to turn the tide and cause a rapid progression towards the original master plan of the city. The FCT was planned to be developed in phases but previous administrations neglected the development of the city until in recent years. But no administration has given as much attention and resources to the city as the Jonathan administration.

Every developer knows that lack of infrastructure is an impediment to the development of any city, especially a world-class city such as Abuja. Thus, provision of infrastructure such as roads, water, electricity and telecommunication facilities in new districts was a sure way to open the city for rapid development. This is what has engaged Bala Mohammed, the minister of FCT since his appointment by President Jonathan.

But building infrastructure requires a lot of funds that are not readily available to the FCT from the national budget. By a prudent mobilization of available resources and a productive partnership with the private sector, the minister was able, within a spate of less than two years, provide infrastructure for the opening of five new districts in the city. The new districts are Katampe, Kagini, Jahi, Wuye and Maitama Extension. These new districts are now thriving residential and commercial areas of the city.

Apart from creating thousands of jobs for residents, the districts would go a long way in alleviating the accommodation problems in the city and solving some of the social problems associated with city congestion.

Apart from opening new districts for development, the administration has also ensured that infrastructure in existing districts are maintained and renewed. New roads and other infrastructure have been done in Gwarimpa, Mabushi, Kado Durumi and Okanje, leading to further expansion of the districts.

But by far the most innovative expansion project of the administration is the land swap programme. The scheme seeks to mobilised private resources for the expansion of the city, thereby fast-tracking the development of the nation’s capital. Under the scheme, the private investor brings his money to build infrastructure on a virgin district allocated to him by the Minister of the FCT. He would commit his resources to the construction of “packaged infrastructure” in line with the standard specified by the FCT administration. The infrastructure would include roads, water, sewage passage and electricity in the new district.

The investor recoups his money by selling the land to developers who are expected to finance the construction of housing estates on the land in line with the FCT master plan. The scheme has been hailed by developers as innovative, cost-effective and a way to quickly expand the city and ease congestion. The scheme was launched last year and officials say many private investors are participating in the project. It is expected to take off fully this year.

According to Adamu Abu, Director of Engineering Services, 10 new districts would be opened under the scheme by 2015. “About 10 districts are currently undergoing planning, and they are already at various stages of completion. And it is a collaboration of the private sector to provide district infrastructure at no cost to the government. The private sector would provide the infrastructure, and later recoup its money from the sale of the plots of land to developers. It takes off pressure from government and allows government to use its resources for other sectors. The private sector investor would develop the district to standard specifications like other districts built by government. It is the responsibility of this department to ensure that standards are met.”

The expansion plan of the FCT Minister has no doubt rattled indigenes of district that would be allocated for development. But the minister, through painstaking consultative process and a pro-people welfare policy, has been able to considerably douse tension and get the people to key into the vision behind the scheme. Compensations and resettlement have been built into the planning of the scheme, thereby addressing the fears of the indigenes that may lose residence and farmlands.

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