Lagos: Urban renewal and associated wastage
When a structure erected at government’s expense is pulled down, or partially removed weeks or months after it was completed, it no doubt calls to question, the thinking and strategic planning that guides the urban renewal drive of such a government. This is because new structures are believed to be products of deep thinking, and meant to serve arising public needs.
With this in mind, the rising trend of demolishing new buildings/structures that the public is yet to derive value from, and erecting another in its stead, obviously calls for concern.Recently, the Lagos State government started putting up wire mesh perimeter fences around major bus stops and medians of major roads. But few weeks after the completion of the perimeter fences in Oshodi, a section was pulled down because of the ongoing construction of the Oshodi Interchange Terminal.
This is not the first time such a thing would be happening. When the state government started the Orile-Mile 2 Railroad project, a new block of classrooms, within the Orile School Complex that was completed only months earlier (but yet to be put to use) before the commencement of the railroad project was demolished.
Before contractors handling the railroad project moved to site, talks about its commencement had been on for about a year, and this was at the same time that the classroom project was ongoing.
Another typical example of this kind of demolition took place at the complex housing the Child and Mother Hospital in Festac Town, Lagos.The completed structure was meant to house the secretariat of Amuwo Odofin Local Council. The flag-off of the construction of a modern secretariat for the council was done by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, during his second term in office.Tinubu’s Chief of Staff, Babatunde Fashola, who took over from the APC’s national leader had a different plan for the same location, just as the new facility was to serve an entirely different purpose.
Consequently, the gigantic local council complex, built at about N150m, which was not used for a single day by the council was brought down and replaced with a hospital.In fact, the best use the structure served before it was pulled down was to house some miscreants and later some security officers. Also, in the Mazamaza area of the state, a newly renovated block of classrooms within Oyewole Primary School was made to give way for the construction of the railroad project.
Respondents and taxpayers see this trend as a huge waste of scarce resources, which they believe should be examined.Gwamkat Gwamzhi, is saddened by the ugly trend, which she believes could be better handled to curb the colossal losses accruing from it.She therefore advised that government should be more focused at a time when resources are very lean but in high demand.
According to Oiza Kween, the spate of demolition of new and unused structures clearly shows that public funds are not being put to good use.“Development of projects by incumbent governments is supposed to be in sync with that of their predecessors since they are all interested in developing the state, hence the need for continuity. The introduction of new policies and projects that tend to counter the previous government’s projects, which gives room for demolition of public structures should be seriously deemphasised.”
Olamide Egbayelo, described the trend as a big waste of taxpayers’ money, aside from reflecting sheer lack of vision and foresight.“Our governments at all levels should learn to build for long-term. Good research will be of great importance for this purpose,” she summarised.“A government that is fond of demolishing to rebuild is the type of government I would describe as being penny wise and pound foolish,” was how Esther Oromidayo Thontteh put it.
Tayo Davies finds it quite disheartening that structures are erected and pulled down at will. “This attitude is making the landscape bereft of old architectural designs and masterpieces that can be used to tell the historical evolution of buildings in the country. A good example is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) building brought down on Lagos Island.”
Commenting on the issue, Managing Consultant, Geographic Integrated Services, a town-planning firm, Leke Adeniji, said the development is a product of improper planning. According to him, it is happening because in this part of the world, development is driving planning, when the reverse should be the case..
“If you look at the Post Office at Ikeja, there is a new bus terminal there, but if you look at the Ikeja Model City, the terminal is not an item on the plan. And it is the Ikeja Model City plan that ought to be guiding development around Ikeja. But what the government is doing is that it is development that is chasing planning, it is not planning that is dictating development. That is a major problem that we have in our town planning policy in Lagos State, and by extension Nigeria.”
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