The Director General of Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Agency (KASUPDA) ISMA’IL UMARU DIKKO, has been in the news for removing illegal structures. In this interview with Kamaldeen Aliagan, he highlighted the technical advice that KASUPDA regularly gives land developers in order not to run afoul of the law.
Generally, what is the mandate of Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Agency (KASUPDA)?
The primary mandate of KASUPDA is the physical development of Kaduna city; we are the protectors of the initial concept of the master plan of the state, we are practically the enforcers of the law. We are mandated to ensure that buildings are being erected correctly and in accordance with their stipulated designs.
Apart from the possession of Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), what other documents should a land owner possess in order to authenticate the genuineness of his structure or building?
Basically, the most fundamental factor that determines an illegal structure is the building development permit. The issuance of statutory ownership of the land is done by Kaduna Geographic Information System (KADGIS), but KASUPDA issues the building permit that certifies that the land is legitimate and can be used for the desired purpose by the developer. However, before the permit is issued, it goes through the scrutiny of our experienced professionals. They have to collectively agree on the design, whether or not it is in conformity with the purpose of the proposed structure and the master plan of the state.
In the master plan, there are areas that are earmarked for further expansion of the metropolis which are to accommodate increase in population. When we receive applications for building permits at KASUPDA, the first step we take is to enquire about the status of that land and what it is designed for in the master plan. We then write back to the applicant, stating the purpose of the land in the Kaduna master plan.
What sanction does KASUPDA apply on developers who do not acquire building permits before erecting their houses or any structure for that matter?
If the house is developed already, we then enquire if the purpose and design align with the master plan of Kaduna. There are parameters that will be used in measuring the standard of the design by the architects, depending on the type of structure erected. In a situation whereby the design conforms with the master plan and the queries issued are met, we will then look into the purpose of the building because there are places that are earmarked as residential areas and if it is converted to a school or hotel then it is a violation of the law and necessary actions will be taken. KASUPDA also advises prospective builders on suitable locations to erect the kind of buildings they desire.
If KASUPDA identifies an illegal structure, what steps and process does the agency follow before the building is pulled down?
It depends on the structure being erected, there are redeemable structures and they are structures that must be demolished. If a building is developed in an area meant for residential buildings then we will evaluate options before we take decisions.
Before we take any major step, we issue the violator a Verification Form and we usually give 48 hours for the developer to submit evidence of ownership and building permit. If he fails to produce them, we will then issue a Demand Notice to that effect. If there is no response, still KASUPDA will then issue a 21 days Demolition Notice in accordance with the law. If a developer possesses a building permit, we have no right to access the property. However, the building permit will carry the specification and design of the kind of building that should be erected on the land and there is a portion in the document stating that the developer cannot contradict the initial building concept and design of the house. If there is a contradiction to this effect, then disciplinary measures will be taken.
If there is contradiction between the building plan and the structure erected, what measure will be taken to redeem the situation?
We will provide the developer with an option of removing the additional structure which wasn’t captured in the initial building plan and the developer will be charged and penalized for violating the agreement. The initial building permit will be withdrawn and we will issue a new building permit in accordance with the law.
If a house is demolished for violating the building development plan, can the same developer apply for another building plan?
If a house is demolished, we don’t take back the land; we just bring down the illegal structure on the land. We have specified rules for design and purpose of the buildings for specific areas. A violation of this structural plan permits us to demolish the building.
What if the building plan was issued in error? Or it was obtained through a corrupt official of the agency, will the developer still bear the brunt?
With the current team of professionals, I have never experienced such, our professionals are diligent in the scrutinizing process and they are objective in their judgment and conclusions. The C of O is the criterion we use to issue a building permit.
What do you to officials who collude to perpetrate such offence?
There won’t be such a possibility because the automated system of the KASUPDA won’t allow such an occurrence. We ensure that our officials are transparent and we have an automation process and it ensures zero room for corrupt practices.
Does your mandate extends to federal government land in Kaduna state? Does KASUPDA have the right to sanction land developer who ncroaches on a federal government land?
Our mandate is to protect the state master plan. Basically, if we identify any illegal structure during our developmental structure compliance patrol, we have the mandate to clear the illegal structure.
Recently the National Eye Center complained of encroachment of private developers on their land. It is a federal government land, can KASUPDA enforce the law there?
We have marked the structures in the encroached area and we have issued them a 21-day demolition notice, we are in court on the issue and we await a verdict before we execute the demolition. We implore people to seek advice from KADGIS when purchasing lands and follow up by consulting our officials at KASUPDA so as to enquire about the status of the land in the design of the Kaduna master plan.
In Kaduna metropolis, the developed part of the city is at 35,000 hectares and the main government reserved areas and layouts identified in the master plan is at 3,000 hectares. Doing the math, less than 10% of Kaduna metropolis is properly designed and well planned.