In Nigeria, two places that come in mind, in terms of infrastructural development are Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, and Lagos State. In evidence in these cities are expansive road networks, modernized building structures, availability of relaxation spots, quality schools, advanced and accessible healthcare facilities and tourist attractions.
With all its reputation as the political centre of the north, Kaduna has lacked such infrastructures. Yet, the state's population is currently approaching 10 million, with an estimated 4 million of them living in the Kaduna urban area. It is projected that by 2050, the population will rise 12.96 million based on a 3.18% growth rate, with about 7-8 million people living in the State's urban settlements. This underscores the urgent need for a coordinated and sustainable Urban Renewal Project.
The first phase of the Urban renewal is targeted at Kaduna metropolis, and focuses on road expansion/maintenance, housing and improved land use, mass transit, parks and recreational centres, market and neighborhood centres. Its execution adheres strictly to the 1967 Max Locke Master Plan of Kaduna. The Urban renewal project will subsequently be extended to Kafanchan and Zaria, the two other major cities in the state.
To start with, 7 new roads totalling 23.7km have been identified that will significantly have multiplier effect on housing, businesses, unity and social development. One of such new roads that stands out is the Kabala Costain Aliyu Makama road in Barnawa. The 1.4km road, which will pick up from Independence Way, will cut through Kabala Costain; cross over River Kaduna with a bridge of 230mm; and link up with Aliyu Makama road in Barnawa. The project will significantly reduce traffic across the historical Stadium roundabout - Station Market bridge.
Over the years, residents of Kaduna have had to bear with the constant time-consuming traffic on the historic River Kaduna bridge, especially during rush hours as people move to and from their places of work. The completion of this new road and bridge will provide an alternative route for residents, reducing time travel and the traffic burden on the former bridge.
Another project that will greatly improve traffic in the state when completed is the road from Rabah Road by Arewa House to the Rigasa Train station. This road will pick up from the Arewa House junction and pass through Unguwan Kanawa, to burst out on Nnamdi Azikiwe Express Way, and continue through Eye Centre resettlement layout to connect with Rigasa Train Station. Linking Eastern to Western bypass, the road will feature a flyover and underpass for maximum efficiency. The flyover will pick up from the Rabah road across the Arewa House junction and over the rail line running parallel to the road, to descending at Unguwan Kanawa. While the Underpass will pick up at the edge of NDA old site golf course, go beneath Nnamdi Azikiwe Express Way linking to the other side of the road in Eye Centre.
Governor El-Rufa'i has shown commitment to ensuring that train commuters in Kaduna encounter as little hurdles as possible. Apart from the dualization of Rigasa road from Nnamdi Azikiwe Express Way to the train station, which was completed early 2019, he also initiated and completed the construction of a link road from the train station, to the roundabout leading to the Airport, reducing travel time and serving as an alternative route for commuters.
Similarly, a new road linking Millennium City to Yakowa Way has been highlighted for construction. This road, to be called Urban Shelter Road, will save commuters the trouble of having to return to Unguwan Rimi before going to and from the two roads. It will be a direct link for residents of Kamazo, Karji, Jan Ruwa and Unguwan Maigero to Millennium City.
Apart from the new roads being constructed, some existing roads have been penciled for dualization or other appropriate forms of improvement due to the strategic role they play to residents. A couple of them, including Katuru Road that links Isa Kaita to Rabah and Alkali roads, from Ali Akilu way to Race Course, are almost at completion stage and have been open to road users. Other roads currently undergoing dualization include Waff Road starting from NEPA round about to Essence junction (Sultan road), Yakubu Gowon Way from Leventis roundabout passing through Barau Dikko Hospital to link back to Waff Road. Other roads set for dualization include Aliyu Makama road in Barnawa, Poly road from Government House roundabout to Dutsenma road through Kasuwan Barci, Rabah road from Arewa House junction to Water board while the UNTL Flour Mill Nassarawa road to Western Bypass will be a 4km single lane with asphalt.
Ultimately the benefits of these urban renewal projects to the people of Kaduna is immeasurable, and include job opportunities and overall economic growth, in terms of increase in the value of property and increased IGR.
In the first four years of El-Rufai's administration, he focused on creating institutions to support the urban renewal efforts. The Kaduna Investment Promotion Agency KADIPA was established to attract and create an investor -friendly environment in the State. Also established is the Kaduna Internal Revenue Service, which since its establishment has exponentially increased the State's IGR from N800 million before the El-Rufai led administration to 44 billion in 2019.
The Kaduna Geographic Information Service, KADGIS plays a vital role in El-Rufai's Urban Renewal vision in Kaduna. KADGIS has been mandated to digitize all land allocation services in the State, drastically curbing issues of double allocation, shady deals, and allowing land owners acquire genuine bankable documents in the easiest manner possible. Bold policies have also led to extensive reforms in the Education and Health sectors.
The task of turning Kaduna State from its static and outdated self to a progressive modernized place is no small feat, and Malam Nasir El-Rufa'i seems to have held the bull by the horn.
A few years from now, Kaduna State will look nothing like its old self as the few projects mentioned here are said to be just a tip of the iceberg. Full-blown, they will result in a Kaduna of which great countrymen like Sardauna will certainly be proud of.
Nabilah wrote this from Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna.