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Nigeria needs towns & cities planning – by Ephraim Elombah


Where the rules are flouted, if any exists, the owner of the building bribes the authorities and continues with his construction. Hence many buildings are erected too near to the roadway.


MOST of Nigerian towns and cities are planless. In Nigeria, most people own buildings by purchasing land and constructing their buildings. This is done in such a haphazard way that where there is a space of land, the buyer has no further obligation than deciding on what type of building to construct.

The importance of towns and cities planning cannot be over-emphasized. Where there is no restriction such as Building line, a building erected on a piece of land can obstruct the roadway. Or, the road narrows so much that a two-way traffic is made difficult. Also, provision has to be made for pedestrians.

The Town Planning office has long been a feature of Local Government secretariats in Nigeria. But it has not made its impact. Buildings are constructed according to individual discretion and not according to specifications by the local planning office. In many cases, where the rules are flouted, if any exists, the owner of the building bribes the authorities and continues with his construction. Hence many buildings are erected too near to the roadway.

In many cases, the local planning personnel lack the spine to enforce their own rules. They may label a building that contravenes the regulations “stop work,” but one will see work on the building being continued only after a short while. Some buildings will have work continue on them even while the “stop work” order is still written on them. The writing may only disappear when the building is plastered.

In some places in Nigeria, the Building Line is about 50 meters from the centre of a highway. But if a local road, the Building Line may be 15 feet from the edge of the road. Nevertheless so many buildings are located just adjacent the roadside gutter, not up to 3 feet. The local planning personnel lack the strength to stop work on such buildings from continuing. In some cases, the building will be 3 or 4 storeys building standing on the edge of the road.

Some buildings are occupied even when electric cables pass them overhead. Such tendency increases the risks of electric hazards. It may not occur immediately but someday a hazard may occur. Some people occupy a building located too near to an electric transformer.

It seems that there is no planned city in Nigeria with the exception of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. And new buildings continue to be designed and constructed, with or without approval from the planning office. There is no order on siting of a building and no order appears to be within site.

Absence of town or city planning makes it difficult to name a road or street. In turn visitors find it difficult to describe where they are going. This in turn hampers tourism and the income and employment it generates are diminished.

The ordering of buildings makes them beautiful to behold. The scenery becomes beautiful and landscaping can be done. It makes movement of people and vehicles orderly and easy. And it minimises accidents on the roads because enough spaces are allowed between dwellings and the roads. Hence fewer victims are claimed by accidents.

A planned city attracts foreigners because they know that living will be comfortable to them. Structures are erected at places appropriate for them and infrastructures are conveniently located.

Lack of planning in Nigerian cities affects every Dick and Harry living in them. Those who go on public transport may be delayed due to obstruction arising from poor planning. They may arrive late at their places of work. Productivity is hence affected due to reduced man-hour used at work. Strangers may easily lose their way due to poor planning.

The towns and regional planning or urban planning boards should sue those who contravene building rules. This can be done if their personnel are closely monitored so that they avoid such anti-social behaviour as accepting of bribes. Building erected without permission or registration or otherwise found to flout the rules should be demolished. 

The war that the Federal Government is waging against corruption should be pursued with vigour when it comes to towns and regional planning. Officers of towns and urban planning boards should be closely supervised and any found to be corrupt should be punished.

Population is growing fast in Nigeria. The towns and cities are becoming congested. Also crime needs to be checked. Towns and cities attract those who come to look for job. They are also market places, apart from schools and headquarters of Local Governments. All these need planning. Orderliness is achieved from planning, and good scenery. Fewer accidents are recorded.


Ephraim Elombah; elombahe@yahoo.com, Tel. +2348055516177  

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