The FCT was formed in 1976; it covers an area of 8000 sq km; but the Federal Capital City occupies 275 sq km. This makes the FCT as a whole more than twice the area of Lagos State.
According to the Aguda panel, this vast area was considered necessary in order to allow room not just for the capital city but also for a city region that will provide most of the needs of the city, including water, forestry, industrial, agricultural, open spaces, defence, air transport and other needs. The FCT comprises of 6 area councils; AMAC, Kuje, Kwali, Gwagwalada, Abaji and Bwari area councils.
The Federal Capital City (FCC) was originally designed for a moderate population. However, as a result of the overwhelming population surge and the failure of past FCT Administrations in providing the much needed developmental projects in the form of opening of new districts, curtailing water shortages, innovative ideas for ensuring infrastructure provision in light of paucity of funds, provision of basic social amenities and sterling services, et al. Thus culminating into a situation whereby the infrastructures on the existing districts have been overburdened and damaged, an ensuing traffic gridlock, water shortages, high cost of housing, etc. The basic problems afflicting the residents, of which the current FCT Administration under the distinguished leadership of Senator Bala Mohammed has set out to remedy in an audacious and pragmatic manner.
From my perspective as a media Analyst and as an individual that partook in the Good governance tour; where we had witnessed firsthand the gargantuan projects that are currently being implemented by the FCT Minister. I intend to use this piece to outline a few developmental strategies/projects of Senator Bala Mohammed and its impact on the lives of residents of the Federal Capital Territory.
Abuja, the Federal Capital City in recent years has witnessed an upsurge in population; this is also evident from the overwhelming increase in vehicles on most highways in the FCC which has made commuting a rather harrowing experience based on the high level of traffic gridlock.
It is based on this disturbing development that the current FCT Administration has purposely decided to unbridle the much needed multi-modal form of transportation; an unhindered Abuja Light Rail that is sure to handle the issue of traffic gridlock and will also be effective, fast and provide a cheaper/affordable means of transportation. The Abuja light rail has the capacity of ferrying 2 million passengers on a daily basis in addition to the thousands of jobs that will be created directly and indirectly from the activities of the light rail.
The Abuja light rail is of major significance to us due to the manner it will be used to effectively move residents from the outskirts to the center of the Federal Capital City and vice versa; invariably, augmenting the socio-economic standing for the residents of the FCT by increasing their financial power and decreasing the city's population upsurge.
Obviously, Senator Bala Mohammed has reaffirmed his administration's willingness to do everything necessary to ensure that the Abuja Light Rail projected is completed within the transformation period of President Goodluck Jonathan. This is predicated on the fact that all impediments that had militated against the Multi-Billion-Naira Rail project were shoved aside.
Senator Bala's administration has been able to hasten the process by ensuring that it got a certificate of no objection from the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPE) as well as the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), and most importantly he has already secured the$500 million loan from the Chinese Exim bank. The phasing of the project is a welcome idea, so that each individual phase can be monitored towards ensuring that it meets the set date of completion and to also ensure that the current FCT Administration conveniently place the train and couches on the rail tracks in Abuja before May 2015.
The Abuja Rail Project must without doubt be exceptionally prioritized by the FCT Administration in such a manner that regular emphasis must be given to it, regular visits must be paid to the sites to ascertain the level of work done at every point in time until the project is completed; it is essential to know what has been done, the current stage of the project and where the project is meant to be at specific periods of time. This is one project that remains very dear to the Federal Government, and efforts must be geared towards ensuring that it is delivered at the expiration of the contractual timeline. As it is now we have 2015 as the date of completion and handing over and that date must be sacrosanct, ensuring that nothing delays that date.
FCT residents must see the Abuja light rail project as theirs specifically bearing in mind the massive employment and commercial opportunities it will bring, and continue to support Senator Bala Mohammed's developmental strategies and projects with a vision of enhancing their living standards.
Senator Bala Mohammed had made a sincere pledge to improve all sectors in the FCT; this is inclusive of the provision of clean portable water to the Capital City and its environs, owing to the fact that water is life and its utmost importance in the day to day activities of man cannot be over accentuated.
Supply of potable water to Abuja has remained a major challenge to the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) as a result of the overwhelming influx of people into the FCT, thus creating an upsurge in the population of the territory. The rapid population upsurge in the FCT has heightened the problem of illegal squatter structures development in the territory; consequently the current Administration will continue to remove such unlawful structures with all necessary consideration and caution to moderate the traumatic effects such action will cause affected residents.
Senator Bala is bringing his experience to bear with regards to handling water situations to the FCT, and based on the priority that has been ascribed towards tackling the water shortages; the FCT Minister had recently paid a visit to the lower Usuma dam to inspect and ascertain the level of work done and to ensure that phase 3 and 4of the dam's water treatment which is at 95% completion is on schedule for commissioning.
The water situation in the FCT is reasonable enough, what has lagged behind overtime is the water infrastructure of which the administration of Senator Bala Mohammed is honestly tackling directly, we are all aware also of the enormous inflow of people on a daily basis into the Capital Territory warranting the massive usage of water.
For a comprehensive approach to the problem the Administration of the FCT under Bala is doing everything humanly possible to ensure that Gurara dam is completed, so that there is enough water about 8 times of what is available at the lower Usuma dam for consumption by residents of the FCT. In addition the water treatment plant being constructed to treat the raw water from Gurara dam, has its essential components in place; the Chlorination Room, the Filtration, Rotors, Clarifiers are all in place, the only missing component is the water pipe to convey raw water from Gurara dam to the treatment plant that is at a 95% completion stage.
This is where the next stage comes into play and it involves reticulation and piping; the pipes are not just equipment you get from any place, they have to be manufactured for you, there are other series of valves that must be ordered with the pipes due to its size, and about 400 metres is what is needed. Nonetheless the companies handling this aspect are working assiduously to meet the set deadline for completion of the job; Senator Bala Mohammed has indicated that in shortest possible time everything should be ready for a sustained water supply to every part of the city and its environs.
The previous laying of pipes along the Outer Northern Expressway (ONEX) or Kubwa-Zuba-Asokoro Expressway was to optimize the distribution of water to the City and its environs; there is water in Life Camp, Jabi, and Utako but coming to Phase 1 due to the scenery in places like Maitama Minister's hill and the rest, these are very high places similar to Wuse II near the British Embassy and most places that are hilly; water won't be available due to rationing system.
The pressure at these points is very low, the problem will be remedied with a constant power supply to the booster stations that pumps water to these high level areas, now the booster station uses public power supply which is inconsistent and inadequate to sustain pressure to these high areas, efforts are being made to use generators for more consistency to pump water to all high located places.
In the not distant past the FCT Administration had previously restored water to some parts of Gwarimpa Estate that previously never had water; then the major constraint affecting the distribution of water to every part of Gwarimpa estate was predicated on the mere fact that there were just a network of pipes that led to individual properties but the individual pipelines that run into the properties were never laid from the start, at that moment the FCT water Board was laying the connection in Gwarimpa Estate; that is the house to house connection which was rather time consuming. More people were consequently engaged to ensure the swift completion of the job.
The basic framework that was evolved is predicated on a methodical plan of water transfer; as the dry season sets in plans have already been set in motion by the FCT water Board with the Gurara transfer program in place; with about 850 cubic meters of water as compared to Lower Usuma Dam's 100 cubic meters. The transfer occurs in a systematic way such that when the dry season sets, the lower Usuma Dam is used to a definite point then raw water is transferred from Gurara Water to the lower Usuma dam.
This transferred water is now drawn for treatment and distribution; in essence this creative method ensures the availability of raw water for treatment and distribution. As it is now there is water up to Gwagwalada, Kubwa and Nyanya, the only places that have not been reached by the FCT Water Board are places like Kuje and Karshi.
Senator Bala Mohammed is willing to do much more in the overriding public interest, in the bid to ensure that the water sector develops drastically to a point where water reaches all the nooks and crannies of the FCT, with no more water shortages of any kind whatsoever.
The opening of new districts which is inclusive of Jahi, Guzape, Katampe, Maitama Extension and Kagini 1 districts is as a result of Senator Bala's apparition, which is geared towards the provision of viable infrastructure to the FCT; the new districts will consist of more than 15,000 plots thus ensuring accommodation to the ever increasing populace of the FCT, also providing business and employment opportunities to help towards empowerment and decongestion of the city.
Essentially, one of these new districts will be executed under the Public -Private-Partnership initiative that will save the Government of scarce resources that have competing needs.
In order to set up a proper framework for all of these activities mostly involving the Katampe District, the FCT Administration had entered into series of agreement with Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC), which is a special agency of the Federal Government that was set up to boost investment in infrastructure by the Private sector through the principle of Public/private partnership initiative (PPPI) and in this area Abuja is a pioneer as a result of the fact that the contract the current administration of the FCT signed with Deanshanger Nigeria Limited for the provision of primary and secondary infrastructures at Katampe District at a cost of N65 billion has finally come to realization with this ground breaking. This is project is the first of its kind in Nigeria and it is a trail blazer that is being commended in various quarters. It is expected that such partnership will be more visible this year so that it can cover other Districts.
In view of the FCT minister's vision for infrastructural development; he has been able to formulate a policy that encompasses not only the construction of roads in the FCC which is the city center but also in the Satellite Towns and Area Councils, this has set a mechanism in place to rapidly decongest the City Centre thus spreading the population of residents across the 8,000 sq. km of the territory, this is an unprecedented feat in the history of the FCT.
The road that is now being constructed by the FCT Minister and which is expected to be commissioned before the next rainy season, starts at Dutsen Alhaji and passes through the Kubwa-Zuba City Centre 10-lane expressway cutting across Lower Usuma Dam, Bwari and passing through Jere and then busting out on the Keffi-Nyanya Expressway, the road is expected to decongest traffic in the North-East Axis for vehicles coming from Nassarawa, Plateau, Borno, Bauchi, Adamawa, Taraba and Benue will have a choice to divert and veer off the City Center if they are going to Kaduna, Niger, Southern States, etc. Another diversion is simultaneously being constructed by the Federal Capital Territory Administration, it will start in Karshi and cut behind Asokoro then link Kuje Area Council before stretching of towards Gwagwalada thus bypassing the whole City, Airport Road and even Gwagwalada town for travellers going to the South East, South West and some North Central States thus avoiding the traffic grid that the residents of the FCT are currently experiencing. This is just the beginning with regards to road construction, as more roads will be constructed in the FCT by Senator Bala Mohammed. This is in addition to the 10 lane Airport road Expressways and 10 lane Kubwa-Zuba Expressways that are at very advanced stages of completion.
The FCT Minister's achievements are inclusive of Investment attraction from within and outside the shores of Nigeria that is put at an aggregate of $6.5 Billion dollars from April 2010 when he assumed office till date; including the investment from the US-based Balkan Development Centre of Dallas for the building of Abuja Town Center at a value of $2.6 Billion, the construction of a World Trade Center by the Church Gate Group which is valued at $1.2 Billion, various Mass Housing Projects by Foreign and Local Companies and also the Investment by Innoson Group from Nnewi that is constructing an Ultra-modern automobile manufacturing and service centre in Abuja, the list is endless and it goes to show that the FCT is fast becoming the best and biggest investment hub in Nigeria with a conducive and secure atmosphere for doing business courtesy of the favourable and attractive policies of the Bala Mohammed led Administration.
All of the massive achievements that have been recorded by Senator Bala Mohammed is as a result of his dexterity, commitment, dedication and realism; which has ensured his strict adherence to the transformation agenda and vision of President Goodluck Jonathan who wants a virile, resilient, more dynamic and developed Nigeria in apparition for the vision 20:20:20 of which Senator Bala Mohammed, the FCT Minister is demonstrating to be pivotal towards its actualization.