Daily Trust (Abuja)

17 January 2013

Nigeria: NAGIS Centre, Karu International Market to Address Mararaba Refuse

Lafia — Two ongoing projects at Mararaba in Karu Local Government Area which provides the gateway into Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), from Nasarawa state, will provide the platform to completely contain the uncontrolled heaps of garbage that litter the federal highway from Mararaba to Keffi, state Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Town Planning has said.

Sonny Agassi, who is also the head of Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura's reform programme in land management and administration, which in totality will lead to the implementation of an ongoing N2.7 billion project to turn around Nasarawa to a decent and twin city to Abuja, said the reform's project called Nasarawa Geographic Information System (NAGIS) which centre is in Mararaba, will add up to addressing the refuse heaps and giving the area aesthetics.

He also said the administration's ongoing project to remodel the abandoned Karu International Market, will create a decent business environment which will accommodate traders in their thousands, as well as other clusters of businesses, thereby decongesting Mararaba through Ado, New Nyanya, Masaka, Auta Balefi, down to Keffi.

"These are not projects on environmental sanitation. But remember that my boss, the governor has a vision which in totality is to lift Nasarawa onto the road to 21st Century city; and every project embarked upon by this government, is tailored towards actualizing His Excellency's dream of a decent and liveable city, where economic prosperity is certain, security of lives and property assured, the future of our children is guaranteed, and above all, a place where every Nasarawa son and daughter will be proud to mention anywhere," Agassi said.

Commerce and Industries commissioner, Ahmed Mohammed Wamba corroborated this when he told Daily Trust that the ongoing project at the international market, which will, at the first and second phases, provide not less than 5,000 shops to include ultra modern shopping malls, ware houses and industrial clusters, will by July this year, be able to address street trading at Karu.

These two projects, according to Governor Al-Makura, who spoke to Daily Trust, earlier, are closer to his heart in many areas including the fact that they will not only bring economic prosperity to the state, but that they will address the eyesore that Nasarawa has become at the border with Abuja.

Daily Trust recalls that in August, 2012, the governor, in company of Sonny Agassi and Ahmed Mohammed as well as other members of the cabinet, led a task force on Development Control on a long walk that lasted hours, taking the team through Mararaba along the federal highway, to have a firsthand knowledge of the situation of congestion, unfriendly environmental condition, and other setbacks suffered as a result of the expansion of slums arising from absence of development control at the border with Abuja.

What this long walk targets is the solution that will come to a situation made worst by the many years that area has had to suffer neglect in the hands of previous administrations.

The walk, according to Sonny Agassi, is also part of the greater reforms introduced to make Karu, down to Keffi, a twin city to Abuja in terms of an ambitious urbanization process to address the slummy outlook of the area.

The governor and Agassi, as well as Barrister Abdullahi Mohammed, state Attorney General, had just returned from Singapore where they attended the World Cities Summit (WCS) otherwise called World Mayors' Forum - a premier event that brings together practitioners and policy makers with leading experts in their field to identify innovative solutions to the most pressing challenges facing cities today. It is an international conference series on public governance and the sustainable development of cities safe environment in terms of clean water and sanitation.

Jointly organized by the Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC) and the Singapore Civil Service College (CSC), the forum which attracted speakers representing diverse cities in the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia lead discussions to address issues on the practical aspects of city governance and integrated approaches to urban development under the summit's theme of 'Liveable and Sustainable Cities for the Future'.

At various points during the long walk, the governor stopped and demanded answers over distortions and the piling heaps of garbage. The available answers he got from Engr. Edward Daudu, the then head of the Nasarawa Urban Development Board (NUDB) - which mandate is to enforce urban regulations in terms of development control and urban hygiene - was lack of funding of the agency. The governor also spoke to motorists and road side traders as well as property owners within the federal government road's setback.

The walk also brought the governor face to face with the high level distortion of the Greater Karu Area master plan, which his administration has already collapsed into a larger programme called NAGIS. The project which is being handled by a consortium of firms under Siraj Engineering Consultants, will make for habitat planning in terms of good network of roads, water supply, drainage system, grazing routes and general development control, as well as the creation of effective cadastral districts and Digital Aerial Mapping (DAM) of Karu, Keffi and Lafia.

Agassi, the man heading the programme had said the government is not just looking at income to fetch into the public purse through this urbanization process which project will last up to 24 months, but will have to first, build confidence in property owners through the provision of a 21st Century habitat with all social infrastructure to compete with, and serve as a twin city to Abuja.

The walk terminated at Mararaba pedestrian bridge where the governor spoke to newsmen, saying it was designed to get firsthand knowledge of the level of distortions there.

He said the administration's ongoing land reform programme which mandate is to correct the master plan of the state's urban centres, as well as give a face lift of those areas, targets Karu for renewal in what will decongest both the road and markets as well as motor parks.

He said the programme will ease the area of traffic gridlocks which happen at peak periods, just as he said the government will take an urgent step rebuild broken infrastructure including the blocked drainage system to take storm waters away from the area.

"We have come to take stock of the kind of peculiar problems that has refused solutions and we have discovered that a lot of people do park their cars on the shoulders of the road. We have also discovered that part of the setbacks is that spaces which are supposed to be cleared for cars to either park, or dedicated for shops are illegally occupied by makeshift shops and movable display outfit," he said.

Al-Makura, who said the government under him is ready to embark on sanitizing Mararaba, to avoid encroachment on the high way, said his government is doing all these to compliment the efforts of the FCT, to ensure ease of movements and business activities within the vicinity of Abuja.

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