Kano State Commissioner for Land and Urban Planning, Muhammadu Nadu Yahaya, in this interview with Salisu Ibrahim, examines the nagging issue of slum proliferation in Kano State.
He also speaks on how the state government, through its land ministry, is re-energising the state Land Use Act, as well as setting up new modules that will remove thousands of houses that were built without following due process.
The commissioner explains that innovation will make the state compete favourably with the most beautiful cities in the world, while the urban renewal programme will help it conform to world standards.
What are the functions of the Ministry of Land and Urban Planning?
The land ministry is in charge of land administration in Kano State. It is also in charge of physical development of rural and urban areas, which include the headquarters of the 44 local governments.
Basically, it is in charge of civil engineering works in Kano Metropolitan. In the last one year, the present administration under Governor Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso has awarded five major road projects. They are the expansion of all the major outlets to Kano such as Zaria road, which is a federal road; Gwarzo road, also a federal road, and Hadejia road which is also a federal road, as well as former Challawa now Sheikh Jaafar road. There is also the major construction of five-kilometre roads in all the 44 local government areas of the state, a project that will gulp N50bn. The other ones range from N2.5bn to N8bn.
Why is the state government reconstructing federal roads and expanding road networks in Kano?
The reason is that these roads are very important to us. The federal government is yet to focus on them and we know the people of Kano do conduct a lot of businesses on these roads. We are doing all these in order to reduce congestion in the state, and also because the federal government has not lived up to its responsibilities in that regard. We here should not fold our hands and allow our people to continue to suffer. You can see that the projects were awarded in the last six months and that tremendous progress has been made, resulting in what is happening in Gwrazo road now.
It is even a pleasure to drive on this road unlike in the past when people had to suffer whenever they had to use the road. The same also goes for the Sheik Jaafar road.
In fact, we faced some problems removing pipes from this road that links the Challawa waterways and that was why one may say that we are not performing optimally here. You see, after awarding the project we now had to move huge pipes bringing water from Challawa to Gwauron Dutse area.
In the next couple of months we have another set of projects coming up. Those include the dualisation project of the balance of the Airport road which links Ashton road to the Airport road up to the Jakara Bridge, and the other road which goes up to the Pilgrims’ Camp. Yahaya Gusau road is to be dualised and several other roads in the metropolis are going to be dualised while some are to be constructed as well.
What happens to the roads inherited from the previous government?
The inherited roads include Sharada road, Murtala Mohammed road, Yantsaki road by Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital and the balancing of Muhammadu Wase road, Bank road, Independent road and some others. We inherited these roads and they have all been rehabilitated.
However, the reason for suspending work on some of them was that when we came in we saw that the cost of the projects appeared outrageous. We therefore had to look at the level of work done and it took us all this while to resume work on them.
We also discovered the contracts for these roads were given out perhaps two-three weeks before the expiration of the last administration’s tenure. This means that they were even awarded after the government had lost elections. We sat down, looked at them, set up a committee of consultants to go and verify them and come up with realistic costs for the projects.
Our prudence has really helped us because we have made a lot of savings, and the balance we have when we rehabilitated one of the roads is a saving of over N700million. We were able to make that saving from a road contract that was given at the cost of N2.7m. This shows you how serious these things are.
Even more worrisome is that some of these projects we inherited were not near completion. The only one that was close to completion was the one near Kantin Kwari, but the same contractors agreed to go back to sites and we have retrieved our money and we paid them their balance. You should know that not a single kobo was paid on some of the road contracts awarded by the previous government.
They knew we were coming in and they just awarded the contracts, thereby leaving us with huge balance to pay. Nevertheless, we paid them, and soon you will see a lot of activities. Within the year they will be completed. All those roads, and all those for dualisation will be completed. I think we have about 15-20 of these roads but all are going to be completed before year’s end. We expect that traffic congestion will soon be a thing of the past.
There are other projects like over-head bridges that have been awarded and they will be constructed, in addition to the terminals and the warehouses that are going to be constructed in some parts of the state. The contracts for all these projects have been awarded, and whenever they are completed heavy trailers coming into Kano would be reduced and this will add to the life span of the state’s roads.
What we have planned is aimed at providing Kano with befitting terminals. The state government has paid the necessary compensation for these planned terminals and over N31bn has been invested in an area of over 300 hectares of land, and at the end, we will be creating many businesses.
The warehouses would be turned to business showrooms because we have beautified them to compete with the global standards, and anyone who wants a warehouse can go to any of the terminals, which are well designed, with well serviced plots of about 50-metre plots. We are talking about the kind of plots that a trailer can turn out from.
In fact, the 300 warehouses we are creating will have high quality roads with drainages. Government is also removing all car dealers and is relocating them to the new planned car cities. We are also providing places for mechanics. At the end of these projects, we are going to reduce congestion in Kano by over 30 per cent because we want to effectively compete with the most beautiful cities in the world.
What do you think of the emergnce of slums due to lack of housing plans in the state?
One of the major plans we have is the development of housing in various parts of the state. We are beginning with the creation of four major cities. The first is Kwankwasiyya city, which is a very low-density city. There will be five-star hotels, university, amusement park - everything that is required to make a city beautiful, and it has reached over 40 percent completion stage. There are six phases in that city. We are only completing the first phase, and have also designed the 470,000 plots which are going to accommodate 340,000 people. By 2013, we are going to finish the second phase. The second is Amana City; that is a big city with high and low density and we have gone far with it. Then the third city is Bandarawo City, which is on the Southern Kano that links up with Katsina State up to Niger Republic. It is an absolute replication of Amana City.
By the middle of 2013, we will be all over Kano to stop the development of unplanned settlements. The last development is the Western by-pass City, which is going to be a commercial complex with a residential complex. We will allocate 50 per cent to the landowners and the rest would go to the government, with the Kano State Investors Company and many other stakeholders coming in.
The state government is also building Kano geographic system. The system is going to be operated from this ministry, which is supposed to modernise the land administration and the way we conduct our activities in the ministry. For instance, when we came in, this ministry was generating N300million a year but we realised that the ministry was also giving waivers of over N1.7bn a year. Even assistant directors were giving waivers, thereby throwing away government money, through the use of the analogue system.
We are now trying to block these leakages and, at the moment, we are collecting N300million monthly. By the time we put this geographic system into use and bring in good hands, we expect to generate about N1.2bn every month. It is really easy when a good system is in place. What is happening is that people were ready to pay but nobody was asking for it.
I was told that my predecessor signed 50 certificates of occupancy in a month, but when I came in I signed at least 50 in a day. Things have been liberalised and that is why the ministry has a lot of money. Soon we are going to have partners because Kano State has now gone nuclear and my ministry is going to be collecting tenement rent and other things.
The money from tenement rent can go up to N1.2bn in a year. One of the important aspects of this land reform is that you are making it easy for people to acquire houses, and in the end you are also opening the economy of the state.