Commissioner of Public Works and Infrastructure BALARABA ALIYU-INUWA highlighted the scope, innovation and features of the Urban Renewal Project in the interview below with Kamaldeen Aliagan
At about this time last year, Malam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai unveiled what some people termed a very ambitious Kaduna urban renewal plan. One year down the road, what is the status of these projects?
One year down the road, we have made significant monetary and human resource investment into the Kaduna urban renewal project. The urbanization of a city that has not had this kind of significant investment since the 70s, is a lot to deal with, considering the increase in the population of people and at the same time trying to modernize the infrastructure that is in place. The way roads and infrastructure were built in the past is not what we have now; we are bringing innovation and technology such as solar street lights. And we also introduced ducts under the constructed roads so that they can accommodate fibre optics for telecoms and internet accessibility.
The Kaduna urban renewal is a very complex project, it is not only about road construction and infrastructural projects. They are environment factors to deal with like the felling of trees. We are trying to do the urbanization while being conscious of the environment and the esthetics of Kaduna. The project is going on strong, we are still working on the roads that we started within Kaduna metropolis. We plan to expand to Zaria and Kafanchan as well.
So far, how many projects have been completed?
Quite a few, there is a lot of work going on presently; Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai has taken the decision to include other contractors like Ronchess and other home grown contractors that have proven their capability to deliver good quality projects. We have also involved a team of consultants and 12 consultancy firms are represented to manage the construction and ensure that the quality of work done is maintained in line with the term of reference. We anticipate the completion of other roads in the nearest future.
Katuru Road has been completed, Alkali Road has also been completed, the Sokoto Road/Bank Road junction has also been completed. Yakubu Gowon Way is ongoing and several others.
Curiously, the completed roads have not been commissioned but people have started using them. Why were they not commissioned?
The first reason for that is the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown process that followed. But then we also considered the hazards of large gathering due to the pandemic. The second reason is that there are still some finishing touches going on like the erection of street lights and road markings.
Still on Covid-19, there is a sharp decrease in statutory allocation of funds from the federation account and Internally Generated Revenue has also declined. Giving this situation, will paucity of funds affect the urban renewal project?
Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai has a list of priority projects that the Executive council has approved. Those projects as well as other pipeline projects, with the review of the Kaduna state2020 budget, I am optimistic that we be able to adjust the scope to fit our fiscal reality if the need arises.
Aside roads, what are the other components of the Kaduna Urban Renewal project?
There are other infrastructural projects like electricity supply, power components, water components, social and environmental components. We have ongoing construction of parks, recreational centres, markets and shopping malls. The shopping malls will avail residents of the state a more appealing shopping experience and it will in turn boost our economic base and the state macro economic future. There must be an enabling environment and facilities to enable private investments thrive in the state. We are also embarking on street lighting to help curb the security challenges in the state. The urban renewal project also has a social component which focuses on rural areas, which is currently being defined, and the Governor already gave us the approval to develop a framework for it. It is an accompaniment to the urban renewal project.