By Aminu Imam
Apparently dissatisfied with the emergence of illegal and unplanned settlements masquerading as ‘mass housing estates’ across the city, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has inaugurated a 14-member committee to advise it on the decision to exit or continue with the mass housing scheme in the territory.
Specifically, the mass housing initiative was introduced by the FCTA in 2000 to facilitate the provision of affordable houses to meet the increasing demand for shelter occasioned by the population upsurge in the territory. The Committee has three weeks to submit its report.
But the programme was beset by a myriad of gaps and deficient structures prompting the establishment of a full-fledged Department of Mass Housing, to streamline procedures and guidelines for proper coordination and regulation of mass housing activities in the territory.
This was also confronted with implementation challenges, a development which compelled the FCT Minister to set up a Ministerial committee on October 26, 2011 to carefully examine the challenges in the mass housing sector with a view to making appropriate recommendations for improved service delivery in that sector.
The committee submitted its report to the FCT administration for consideration and further action.
Consequently, the administration approved the report and last week inaugurated a 14-member White Paper committee headed by the Director of FCDA Engineering Services Department, Adamu Alfa Abu, an engineer, to look at the document and advice it with a view to give the FCT Mass Housing Scheme the character it desires in conformity with the Abuja Master Plan.
Inaugurating the panel in Abuja recently, the FCT Permanent Secretary, Mr. John Obinna Chukwu, an engineer, said the effort will go among way to revolutionize the Abuja Mass Housing sub-Sector to meet the housing needs of the residents.
With the White Paper in place, Chukwu assured that a drastic change will emerge in the territory with a view to improve service delivery in that sub-sector, in line with the Transformation Agenda of the Federal Government.
Part of the Terms of Reference of the Committee is to critically examine the recommendations of the Ministerial Committee, as it guided the provisions of Mass Housing Development Guidelines for FCT; Guidelines for final Engineering Design of Infrastructure for the Federal Capital City and Satellite Towns; FCT Development Control Manual as well as generate conclusions that will represent the position of the FCT Administration on the matter.
Other members of the Committee include the FCT Solicitor-General, Managing Director, Abuja Property Development Company, Directors of Urban and Regional Planning; Land Administration; Mass Housing; Public Building; Satellite Towns Development Agency; Resettlement & Compensation; Development Control as well as SSA (Technical) HMS office; SA (Project) HM Office and SA (Lands) PS Office.
Meanwhile, the FCT Minister mandated the task team headed by the new FCT Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mbu, to remove all shanties and other illegal structures in the city centre; put in place necessary strategies to reduce gridlock and ease traffic flow in the metropolis; arrest and prosecute prostitutes who constitute social menace within Abuja metropolis and arrest, detain and prosecute road traffic offenders among others.
The team was also asked to carry operations in hideouts occupied by suspected criminal elements with a view to forestalling nefarious activities in the territory.
The members were equally to identify all flash-points for street hawking and other untoward activities in the metropolis as well as arrest, detain and prosecute environmental sanitation defaulters, street hawkers and their sponsors among others.