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Demolition heralds New Lafia devt platform

Lafia, a state capital, still looks like a big slum in a state which existence has clocked 17 years after creation from the old Plateau…

Lafia, a state capital, still looks like a big slum in a state which existence has clocked 17 years after creation from the old Plateau State. Sharks and all manner of makeshift structures line the major roads of Jos Road, Makurdi Road, Shendam Road and major junctions and streets, stretching out in a manner that creates a picture of an area just coming out of years of endless war.
Roadside trading, illegal motor parks, liquor joints hanging on the edge of every available space, Suya spots competing for space with road users, property owners encroaching into the perimeters of the major roads with extended shops, and the government getting used to the whole mess and looking the other way as though the development was normal; are some of the major spectacles a first time visitor is compelled to behold as they enter this state capital.  
Like Karu at the gateway to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lafia has over the years, suffered in the hands of neglect by the government which has abandoned development control component of urban development on mere sentiments that doing so will mean removing people’s livelihood at the cost of the re-election of the government in power at the time.
So over the years, owners of illegal structures have had a field day expanding and pushing their limits to a height which has denied the beauty of the urban regeneration efforts of the administration of Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, called Project Shovel. In a manner that has sandwiched the newly provided aesthetics of a perfect network of roads, traffic lights and street lights, illegal structures, street trading and illegal motor parks have become like a cancer which treatment must fetch the patient a surgical operation for them to survive.
“We must carry out the surgery to remove the cancer”, said Sonny Agassi, commissioner of Lands and Urban Development who has embarked on a demolition exercise in collaboration with the governor’s Senior Special Assistant on Development Control, Hassan Ogbole.
The exercise is facing serious criticism from the opposition, but they have not tagged it illegal because most of them admitted that Lafia needs to be given a character.
Agassi said the demolition is not just coming, as it is preceded by development initiatives that have given the people good alternative. He talked of new layouts, one of which is the New Lafia City.
The new city is planned to phase out the big slum that is today, the state capital of the fifth generation state. The Asokoro of Lafia, as it is popularly known because of its bird view location from Government House along Shendam Road, is a new layout acquired late last year for an engineering design that is expected to put the first well planed area in the state capital.
The area is about 50 hectares in size. It runs in a curve behind Government House, and adjoins the slums of Lafia-East, and the highbrow Project Quarters.
“It is the baby of Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura) who decides on this as part of the larger vision to give this state – especially Lafia, a foundation upon which Nasarawa will continue to build on, to a model state with development control with all the aesthetics of a modern city. But this is not just going to put a foundation of cities development in Nasarawa; it is going to step us into the future of world cities”, Sonny Agassi, commissioner in the supervising ministry told Daily Trust.
The new layout is part of the design of the Nasarawa Development Platform (NDP), an initiation of Siraj Consulting Engineers, Aeroprecisa Limited, and GIS Transport, and Nasarawa State Ministry of Lands, on which shoulders have been added Urban Development – partners in the totality of a habitat project which execution is expected to phase out slums, and in their place, build liveable and sustainable cities.
The 24-month period project to execute Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Digital Aerial Mapping, as well as create cadastral zones; all expected to recover the state and create a twin city to Abuja, has already created the roadmap to achieving a miniature Singapore dreamt by Governor Al-Makura.
There is an engineering design in place, he said, that has already planned plot sizes of 840 square metres and 1050, in a two-class living environment. “We will provide prototype houses”, Agassi said, explaining that “so that there is no room for unplanned development.”
“It will have its water treatment plant, a club house, over 10 kilometres of well designed network of roads and drainages. The new city will have schools, shopping and other commercial centres,” he said.
In all, there are 11 district scheduled for detailed planning in the project being handled by some of Nigeria’s leading town planners working through a consortium of firms partnering with Siraj Engineering Consultants, called Pragmatic Solutions Consult Nigeria, Envicons, and National Environmental Design Associates. The district are five in Karu at the gateway into Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), four in Lafia, the state capital and parts of Doma, a neighbouring local government area, as well as two in Keffi, also near Abuja.
Prominent among the districts under plan are Peninsula, at the border with Abuja, and Lafia Modern City, which plan is designed to conform to the environment-friendly standards being promoted by World Cities Summit (WCS), otherwise called World Mayors’ Forum, with particular designs to implement the summit’s Liveable Cities master plan where green zones are prominent, and water and sanitation are a achieved.
“The districts being planned will be the birth place of environmental friendliness in Nasarawa”, Alhaji Ibrahim Usman Jibril, a Senior Special Assistant to the governor, who is also the project manager of Siraj-led project.
The district planning is a third component of the totality of Nasarawa Geographic Information System NAGIS, a project being handled by a consortium led by Siraj Engineering Consultants.

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