31 December 2012

Nigeria: FCT in 2012 - Demolitions, Land Swap, New Districts

The activities of the FCT Administration (FCTA) in the outgoing year, 2012, ended with optimism that the incoming year, 2013, holds lots of promise for the residents of the Federal Capital Territory.

The bad news, though, is that demolitions were carried out in settlements like Mapped, Utako, Apo and the proposal to further demolish 19 settlements including Katampe, Lugbe, Idu, Karmo-Dape, Tasha, Gwagwa, Saburi, Zauda, Jahi and Gishiri. Other settlements slated for demolition include Mabushi, Kuchigoro, Chika, Aleite, Piwoyi, Pyakasa, Tudun-Wda, Dei-Dei and Guzape.

However, the good news is that during the year the administration officially signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with 13 Land-Swap investors to immediately commence the opening up of eight new districts in the Federal Capital City, Abuja.

Each of the investors paid the sum of N350 million to the FCTA being fees for survey maps, detailed land use plan, engineering design, demographic reports, legal documentation and other ancillary services to qualify, in addition to the over N300 billion investment from banks in and outside the country to develop infrastructure in those districts.

Though the flagging-off of infrastructural development in three districts of the Federal Capital City, Abuja, during the year marked greater actualization of the FCT Road Map for sustainable development, the issue of abandoned projects still occupy the front burner in the assessment of performance of the FCTA.

Some of the abandoned projects include rehabilitation of Apo-Karshi road, Kuje-Gwagwalada road, Gwagwalada-Dobi road and the Kwaita-Yebu road.

But within the year, five districts namely Katampe, Mabushi, Gwarinpa I and Kado were approved for procurement using PPP approved by the Federal Executive Council since 2006 and to ensure the take off of FCT Social Housing Scheme, approval was given for the allocation of 50 hectares of land to the US-based company, American Building Systems International, to build the first phase of the Abuja Social Housing Initiative as well as approval given for 1,000 hectares of land to be set aside for the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria to build decent and affordable houses.

Provision of affordable housing

The objective of these, according to the FCTA, is to take care of victims of demolition exercises and provide affordable housing to medium and low-income earners and that the latter initiative has already taken off near Ushafa, Bwari Area Council.

On the Abuja Light Rail Project, the FCTA signed a MoU agreement of the $500M loan that will be provided by the Chinese Nexim Bank to continue with the rail project.

In a bid to lessen the pressure on the 250 square kilometres of the Federal Capital City, the administration re- established the Satellite Towns Development Agency (STDA) to fast track engineering infrastructure in the designated satellite towns of the territory.

Also in the transport sector, though there are still some challenges, there was progress of work on some major Abuja roads to address the transportation bottlenecks being experienced along major entrance points into the federal capital city. These include the ongoing rehabilitation and expansion of Umaru Musa Yar'Adua (Airport Road) and Murtala Mohammed (Kubwa Road) expressways respectively which, having reached completion stages, are expected to be commissioned in 2013, while the multi-billion naira Guzape-Sunrise bye-pass was also opened to traffic thereby depleting the traffic congestion at AYA junction.

On foreign investment, the FCTA said it has been able to realize over $6.6 billion (about N1.086 trillion) from direct foreign investment into the Federal Capital Territory, including the sum of $2.6 billion foreign direct investment for the Abuja Town Centre Development and over 1 billion US dollars now being expended on the ongoing construction work at the Abuja World Trade Centre.

But residents are still wondering about the multi-billion naira Millennium Tower project that is progressing at snail speed; presently, only the multi-level parking lots are said to have been completed. And the Gurara water project which is yet to be commissioned despite the long delay and hype mustered by several administrations.

Security of lives and property

Though the FCT has been spared the agony of bombings and killings being experienced in other states of the federation, and in order to ensure security of lives and property of the residents of Abuja during the outgoing year, the FCTA said it constructed and completed three new police stations and 11 new police posts in and around the 250 square kilometres of the Federal Capital City, Abuja and procured 114 new vehicles for the security agencies apart from the administration's capability to use data generated from the Abuja Geographic Information Systems (AGIS) to enhance security of lives and property in the Federal Capital Territory.

Year 2012 also witnessed the commencement of work on the legal and administrative framework for the establishment of the FCT Security Trust Fund. Similarly, the Administration banned motor racing and the use of power-bikes across the FCT, which is now being enforced by security agents.

Equipping health facilities

FCTA also introduced automating laboratory services in all its secondary health facilities and also concluded arrangement to establish a world-class dialysis unit in the FCT while the Asokoro District Hospital now has Ultra-Sound and Echo Cardiograph machine (HD 11 machine) which is believed to be the only one in the country. Also, four new Static X-Ray machines have been installed in Gwarinpa, Wuse, Maitama District and Kubwa General Hospitals respectively.

The Administration has also procured four new Mobile X-Ray units which have been deployed to Asokoro, Maitama, Wuse and Gwarinpa district hospitals, apart from the four new HD3 Ultra-Sound Machines for Maitama, Gwarinpa, Wuse Districts and Nyanya General Hospitals respectively, to help in the treatment of pregnant women and patients with liver or abdominal medical cases.

During the outgoing year also, in order to tackle social issues surrounding the large number of both skilled and unskilled labourers on the streets of Abuja, the FCTA announced the establishment of training and waiting centre, particularly for the skilled ones, by the Urban Affairs Department of the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council AMMC.

Fast-tracking building plans processing

In order to fast-track all the processes of building plan approvals in Abuja, the FCT Development Control Department within the year commenced electronic vetting (e-vetting) of all drawings submitted during the period.

Also in the last quarter of 2012, in a measure to bring a sigh of relief to thousands affected by the hitherto suspended land allocations, the FCT Minister said President Goodluck Jonathan has approved the immediate re-instatement of 3,645 plots hitherto revoked in the Federal Capital Territory.

As 2013 fast approaches, the expectations of both FCT residents and visitors alike is for a more pragmatic approach to issues of developmental progress in the Federal Capital Territory.

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