Following unremitting clampdown on their operations at unapproved locations in the city centre by Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) officials, the Motormechs and Technicians Association of Nigeria (MOMTAN) makes a case for the integration of a mechanic village into the Abuja City development plans. DAVID ADUGE-ANI writes:
Against the backdrop of the legendary “organised chaos” of the country’s former capital city, Lagos, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is often touted as a masterpiece of urban planning.
However, critics of the nation’s new capital have often dismissed it as a grand plot by the elites to cocoon themselves in Abuja and away from the rest of the citizenry. In buttressing this argument, they often cite alleged failure to make provisions for certain pro-people infrastructure in the city centre.
The non-provision of a space for a mechanic village in the city centre is a case in point. This is all the more curious given that the elites need mechanics to service or repair their much beloved state-of-the-art automobiles in the city centre.
Because their services are in high demand at the city centre, mechanics are often found there, albeit operating illegally in unauthorised and unapproved space.
This has pitted these artisans in a daily war with officials of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) who are regularly sighted chasing off mechanics from the streets, motor parks, empty plots, uncompleted building, green areas and under the city’s flyovers, among others.
Following these raids, some of the mechanics relocated to the city suburbs but poor patronage in these remote areas soon forced them back to the city centre, where their face-off with the AEPB officials continues.
But the mechanics are tired of this cat and mouse existence and want the FCT authorities to integrate them into the city centre’s development master plan.
Chairman, Motormechs and Technicians Association of Nigeria (MOMTAN), FCT Chapter, Engr. Tenimu Ahmed Maikasua, told LEADERSHIP WEEKEND that the union members were not happy that the FCT administration had so far failed to provide an accessible mechanic village for them in the city centre.
Maikasua added: “Our members are also panicking over the looming demolition exercise in the FCT because it would definitely affect them. Our members who are staying in those places marked for demolition appear not to know what they are doing at the moment”.
However, LEADERSHIP WEEKEND gathered that a plot was allocated to the mechanics in Apo village to build a mechanic village during the tenure of Mallam Nasir el-Rufai as the FCT minister. Also, a number of plots were allocated to mechanics in Abaji, Gwagwalada and Tungamaje, and recently in Katampe Hill, for the development of mechanic villages.
But Secretary, MOMTAN, Ozoemena Pepple, told our reporter that it is difficult for the mechanics to develop these plots into mechanic villages since the locations lacked requisite infrastructure like good access roads.
Pepple said: “If you visit these plots they have given to our members, they are mere bush without access roads, no electricity and other infrastructure for any development. That is why most of our members find it difficult to go there.
“Even up till now, these plots have not been shared among our members to enable each person know his plot. It is the duty of the area councils to share these plots, which they have failed to do. That is why you see our members still hanging around under bridges and trees in several parts of the Territory.”
Pepple stated that the union had written several letters to the area councils “to come and share these plots among members of our association, but nothing has been done to that effect.”
Also, Maikasua said although the FCT administration has allocated a plot of land to the union in Katampe Hill, “it is as good as we don’t have any land at all, since there is no infrastructure like road for any one to access the place”.
He pleaded with the FCT administration “to fast-track the issue of our land to enable our members to settle down in one place by helping them to open up the sites with by access roads.”
Maikasuwa disclosed that the union members “have agreed that as soon as the plots are opened up, every one of us must go there to operate.”
How, in a telephone interview the Public Relations Officerr (PRO) FCT Resettlement and Compensation Department, Mr. Joseph Attah, explain that the administration is not doing anything concerning the Mechanic Village for now.
“For now the administration is not doing concerning the mechanic village in the city centre”. Joseph Attah said.