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Lagos urbanization needs innovative approach

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By Abiodun Okunloye

Improper planning will make Lagos City expansion increasingly chaotic - ATOPCON.

In order to meet the challenges posed by Lagos’s rapid urbanization, the Association of Town Planning Consultants of Nigeria (ATOPCON) has encouraged its members to look into new planning methods and cutting-edge technologies. Implementing these changes would allow for more effective management of the city’s ongoing expansion and its accompanying effects. Dr. Idris Salako, a former president of ATOPCON, made these remarks at the 2023 annual general meeting of its Lagos State branch. He commented that the rapid pace of changes in Lagos City without proper planning makes the city increasingly chaotic, inefficient, and unsustainable.

He decried that consultant town planners have difficulty fulfilling their roles in the growth process, which has made the planning and management of the quickly developing city of Lagos a difficult and ever-evolving task. He stated that the city’s growth had surpassed the government’s ability to plan for it and that because of the swift rate of development, officials and experts lacked the expertise to deal with the issue. To stay ahead of the competition, he advised consultants to take advantage of their skills, move swiftly, and forsake momentary gratification.

Lagos’s rapidly growing environment needs sustainable action.

Discussions were also made around the difficulties of implementing sound town planning in the rapidly growing metropolis and the perception of the function of consultant town planners. As a result of member concerns and actions, consultant town planners must change the public’s opinion of the profession. These include things like putting up stumbling obstacles on purpose to prevent someone from applying, having secret conversations with clients behind the consultant’s back, sowing seeds of doubt in the client’s mind about the consultant’s abilities, stealing someone else’s work, and plagiarism.

More so, he stressed the importance of having the “five C’s,” meaning character, competence, capability, capacity, and courage, to leave a lasting legacy in one’s field and future generations. Experts are in high demand as Lagos continues to grow both in terms of land area and population. The focus of city planners must transition from pure planning through physical plans to integrated efficient city planning that includes input from a cross-section of citizens at all levels of government. Planners need to accommodate political requirements without lowering their standards of practice.

Consultant needs to pay attention to their clients for details.

Former Nigerian Institute of Town Planners president Waheed Kadiri has called for a rise in service quality among the profession’s practitioners. They need to quit talking and start paying attention to their customers. Consultants in urban planning were also urged to help individuals and businesses become better communicators and listeners. Pay close focus to people, details, time management, and professional ethics in their work. In addition, customers often assume they are experts in their field and would guide them accordingly. He emphasized that they should be prepared to provide the high-calibre service that is normally only available from ATOPCON members.

Also, Dr. Kola Olayiwola, the branch’s chairman, said that the challenges of rapid urbanization in Lagos underscore the need for the forum to build members’ capacity for providing high-quality services. Again, spread across its surrounding towns has left a significant void, which the efforts of the consultant town planners could assist in filling, thereby establishing the norm for spatial planning and administration. The consulting companies are responsible for producing useful physical planning documentation. If Lagos wants to continue to attract global and domestic investors, he added, it is imperative that these plans be put in place to direct expansion and organize land uses for overall urban management and development operations.

Improvements are necessary to enhance the service delivery.

On the other hand, Dr. Salako explained that the average planner suffers from a poverty-like mentality, low morale, poor perception, corrupt inclinations, a lack of expertise, unethical behaviour, and non-professionalism. He urges them to develop an overflowing perspective towards the good worth, happiness, and success of others and allow their achievements to enrich rather than diminish their own. The typical planner is submissive, and they don’t promote their narratives strongly enough. If they choose to write their story, he warned, they might get it incorrect because of the biases inherent in their own worldviews.

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