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Proper town planning to develop rural areas

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By Timothy Akintola

Infrastructures, other developments are predicted to continue.

Many states in Nigeria have failed to implement a viable town planning mechanism and this has increasingly affected the development of the rural environments. However, the failure to initially plan does not signal an overt end, as remedial measures can be enacted to address the present challenges. Per planning, Abuja has been described as relatively manageable even though management has not yielded set result. Lagos state has also been taking strides to ensure the management of its environment. Lately, Governor El Rufai has also been applauded for his efforts and foresight in Kaduna State. In fact, he has been ranked second to Lagos State government as they open to ideas whilst remedying past failures through planning and replanning.

However, other states have continually moved in circles as a result of their lackadaisical efforts. In fact, planning has become a legal issue. Presently, Lagos State amongst others have effectively domesticated the Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning Law. Some states reportedly rejected this law due to the interests of the political figures. In an interview, Mr. Nathaniel Atebije shared his thoughts on the poor implementation of the town planning policy within the country. On the role of town planning in bridging the deficits of infrastructures, he stated that town planning was pivotal for organizing and thinking about the future and as such, all necessary measures needed to progress future development would be put in place. He noted that this would beautify the environment, enhance the economy and ensure a livable environment in terms of minimized pollution and balance of open space environment.

Illegal development of plans without due processes criticized.

Mr. Nathaniel again pointed out that planning should be the main basis of infrastructural development, as it gives a clear indication of land uses, with connectivity accentuating the major function of land uses. He thus urged the government to plan before installing infrastructure. He further explained that upon the facilitation of infrastructures, other developments would set in. To the plans of every state and assessment of the compliance level by the political figures in the country, he said that changes in plans are mostly caused by a variety of reasons. He further explained that planning was not an exact science and as such, have scientific and social parts. He however criticized the actions where leaders enact their willpower to illegally develop plans without going through the due process. This, he added had immensely affected the environment. On salvaging this problem, he noted that numerous enforcement measures must be enacted.

On the measures needed to curb the rural-urban migration challenge that the country presently face, Mr. Nathaniel said it was important to first study the root cause; reasons for moving out of these areas. He referenced the Elementary Human Geography in explaining the push and pull factors. He explained the push factors as the difficult environment that people experience in rural areas with no health or educational facilities or good roads and employments to make their lives better. He noted that the belief that migration to the city will make lives better, even without a job or shelter.

Government encouraged to invest in local environments to reduce migration.

Often times, those that find it difficult to sustain themselves end up being miscreants and others become victims of homelessness, leaving under bridges or in the streets. This aside, the problem of insurgency and sectarian violence were also identified as a cause for migration from rural communities to safer environments. This, Mr. Nathaniel said was rampant in many northern areas. On the main challenge that grows from these migration patterns, housing was pointed out as a major factor for the creation and development of slum areas. He however noted that investing in rural development was the best solution and encouraged the government to enact rural development projects that would prompt people to relocate there more. With this, he stated that the influx of migration into most urban areas would reduce.

The NITP President further encouraged the government to invest in local governments to ensure less reasons for migration. He disclosed that the constitution provides for this but the government has been immensely complacent about implementing it. He noted that this was clearly a case of political power and the ability to implement the provisions of the constitution. He pointed out that if the money meant for local development is duly allocated and implemented, the necessary developments in these local areas will suffice.

Illegal developments recognized as the major cause of floods in Nigeria.

On the prediction of an intermittent flooding and measures to mitigate the effect, Mr. Nathaniel indicated that it was a process which would include building infrastructures such as roads, drainages and other engineering infrastructure to guide the storm water. He again indicated that the major cause of flooding in Nigeria was the illegal development where greedy developers erect buildings on flood-prone environments. He explained that these illegal developments were also facilitated by the political class and stated that this problem would persist until people start being held accountable.

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