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The failure of urban planning in Kano metropolis



Unplanned Development in Kano

By Bala Nasir

Sticking to the actual planning as designed by professional town planners has proved to be a major undoing of many administrations in Kano state probably due to demographic, social, religious and even selfish considerations of some individuals in the society.

The state which was created along with others in 1967 has been grappling with the issue of town planning right from when the first administration was dethroned in 1976.

Though there were serious implementation of designed town planning in the state especially by the first three administrations, but this began to gradually gets thwarted by the military administrations as town planning issues that used to take front burner in all government activities were discarded.

Major environmental and regional planning schemes designed to take care of gradual development of the state by the administration of Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi of blessed memory were utterly revised and thwarted.

While no serious substitute was developed, the administrations started allocating lands to all manner of people to build all manner of structures randomly without any justifications and due considerations to various aspects of environmental, social and economic costs in the future.

The expansive land at ‘Farm Centre’ within Kano metropolis is just one victim of policy summersault that costs the state a very serious development centre as designed by the Rimi administration.

Also, the land now housing the magnificent Ado Bayero Mall along Zoo Road is another misfortune story via such visionless policies that was previously expertly designed to house a beautiful modern one-stop market where more and more people will be allocated space to do business. Not what obtains now in that place where few individuals were given that expansive place to do business.

Politics of carve out

As if that was not enough, when the administration of Kabiru Ibrahim Gaya came, it started carving out from the spaces of all Government Reserved Areas (GRAs) within the municipality without any specific and modified plan to guide how buildings should be erected.

This therefore gave rise to a new form of squalor quarters in the GRA thereby chocking the reserved area with buildings that dotted spaces reserved for development in the future.

In addition to this, no corresponding infrastructure was provided in the ‘government desecrated areas’ to cope with the additional development that took place.

Most of these areas so ‘desecrated’ are left to exist with the same infrastructure provided during the colonial era which was upgraded during Audu Bako administration.

This madness continues unabated up to the present time to the extent that any space left is being tracked by individuals who go to the authorities concerned to allocate such to them to build structures on.

Also, the densely populated areas within the city continue to get more and more populated via the population explosion now being witnessed in the country with more structures being built to accommodate more residential and business concerns.

This madness continues unabated up to the present time to the extent that any space left is being tracked by individuals who go to the authorities concerned to allocate such to them to build structures on.

Politicians have even made it so glaring that lands are over the years carved out from schools and other institutions belonging to government and allocated to political god-fathers cum jobbers and the likes as payoff for electing the administration in power.

Now the end result of all these is the recurring flooding that is being witnessed during the wet season especially during the peak of the season around July/August every year.

Also, the roads, culverts and drainages that are being shabbily built due to wanton corruption taking place almost everywhere are usually washed away in such situations.

Residents of many areas within the city are enmeshed by flooding whenever it rained due to poor or bastardized planning that has been taking place for so long a time without recourse to future consequences of the action.

Now, the situation is getting worse and it is continuing to be, because instead of looking at the problem and finding a way of solving it, the people and the authorities concerned seemed adamant.

Rather, more harm continues to be inflicted on the environment as more and more structures are being erected along water channels, under electricity cables, on NNPC pipelines, blocked drainages and all available reserved lands in the city and not many seem to care about giving it a halt.

Social justice

With a society like this, it will take a very long time to right any wrong being perpetrated by some selfish few, while the end results of their actions consume almost everybody in that society.

When shall people come to terms with reality of the moment and try to figure out the destructive harm we have been inflicting on our environment on a daily basis and first do away with the inordinate desire to accumulate riches anyhow and no matter what?

On the side of the authorities, it is rather safe to be remembered for good deeds than being remembered for the primitive accumulation of wealth that we are now witnessing in people at the helms of our affairs.

Let there be sanity in the conduct of people’s affairs in our society by those in authority as this will certainly signal the beginning of good things to be happening to this society.

When we start to have this, the long elusive happiness that we are all yearning to enjoy will be getting closer to us.

This will erase the despair we are used to in all that we do and undo as a people.

As it is said somewhere that since we tried social injustice and we seemed to have been failing even at the level of our environment, why not try adopting social justice in all we do?

Chances are that we can make it to the promised land as others in other climes we even cherish did.

A journey of one thousand years starts with a step, it is not late.

Who is bold enough to lead the way?

Bala Nasir, a journalist and public affairs commentator writes from Kano.

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