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Abuja: Green Spaces And The Moves To Combat Climate Change

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As the world battles the surge of climate change which is as a result of global warming, TARKAA DAVID writes on the roles of green environment in cushioning the hazardous effect of climate change.

Climate change may be simply understood as change in global or regional climate patterns. In particular a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels. It is also known as global warming, caused by human activity, as opposed to changes in climate that may have resulted as part of earth’s natural processes, especially in the context of environmental policies.

The term climate change was proposed by World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) in 1966 to encompass all forms of climatic variability on time-scales longer than 10 years, regardless of cause.

These changes may also be occasioned by high concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The federal capital territory Abuja is said to have a population of over 1,406,239 as of the 2017 records. According to the world urbanisation prospects population review, the population of Abuja is estimated to stand at 2,892,000 in 2018. This indicates a huge increase and pressure on available facilities.

In recent time, the city has recorded the highest temperature of 40°C, which is about 103°F and the lowest temperature of 4°C which is equivalent of 39°F in January.

The solution to global warming according to experts is natural with the open space strategy. Open spaces and previously developed land (PDL) can and will make a valuable contribution to helping both to reduce concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and to help adapt effectively to the impacts of change Urban greening is a cost effective way of moderating harsh climates at a local level. Trees and vegetation have a natural cooling effect as they provide shade, potentially reducing surface temperature, by 5°C, to 20°C.

The functionality of open green spaces becomes increasingly important when viewed against the backdrop of a changing climate. This is the basis of the Abuja Master plan, which provides green spaces for trees and vegetation.

In a review of the FCT Master plan, a Professor of urban and design.

Timothy Gyuse (FNITP) in a paper titled ‘symptoms of distress’ said that those saddled with the responsibility of developing the city have not followed over the years.

Some of the symptoms of distress include distortion to land use, multiplication of pocket layouts, sector district organisation, deviations in the location of key government buildings, loss of green areas, development of unregulated settlements and development along Abuja-Keffi road.

Prof Gyuse said the failure of the Abuja Master Plan depends on understanding and implementing the residential components, adding that each sector was conceived as a mini city of 100,000 to 250,000 inhabitants.

He noted that many of the major government institutional buildings are not located where planned such as the Presidential Villa. “The Aso Rock was supposed to be the presidential palace, located on the mall near the National Mosque. It was relocated in the main park that was to surround the legislative arm of government. Visible forms and identifying elements of our capital city are now lost in the forest of ‘development’ ‘’ he said.

Prof. Igyuse stated that the loss of green areas is evident in the comparison between the approved international planning associates (IPA) plan and the actual development on ground. He revealed that at the monumental core in the central area was to be a national square as the anchor of two radial streets with a national mall that linked to the national assembly and other monumental symbols of government.

The presidential palace surrounded by presidential gardens was to be in this area but that is not the case. In reality, the concept of national mall where all the ministries and many government offices are located does not exist.

He further noted that beyond the national sports centre was to be park way from the airport intended to be a green area that welcomes visitors but this green area (parkway) is now lined with buildings, estates and institutions.

The Abuja Master Plan envisaged that the natural watercourses in the areas where possible. Following the distortion of the Abuja Master Plan, Residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) under the aegis of concerned Abuja Residents Forum has made a case to the FCT minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello to declare a state of emergency on the lingering abuse of the abuse of Abuja master plan.

In a letter to the minister, which was signed by Chuks Akamadu and made available to LEADERSHIP, the group noted a brazen distortion of the Abuja Master plan right from the Federal Capital City to satellite towns and suburbs.

The residents pointed out that the development of adequate recreational and green areas within the FCT is a key feature of the master plan, but does not reflect the reality on ground. The letter cited the sorry state of Kubwa that does not boast of any meaningful recreational facility or designated green areas as reflected in the actual plan and allays fears that such fate may befall other satellite towns if the minister does not declare a state of emergency on the abuse of the Master plan.

While noting that green areas have been converted to residential or commercial buildings especially in phase 3 and FO1 layout the group pointed out that with the federal government’s avowed commitment to climate change and sustainable development, it must preserve the green areas of Abuja for the benefit of the residents.

A resident of Kubwa, Mrs. Fatima Ahmed, who spoke to LEADERSHIP, said that some personalities connive with their cohorts in government to convert the green areas to either residential or commercial buildings.

Ahmed stated that green areas in phase 3, apart from being overtaken with shanties, have also been clandestinely converted to other purposes. “Last year in October, officials of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) destroyed some structures here and left some belonging to their friends,” she said.

Furthermore, a visit to the green area allotted to FO1 layout revealed that the actual green area on ground does not reflect the original plan as contained in the Abuja Master plan.  It is gathered that the recommendations of the FCT inter directorate committed set up to resolve the issue of land allocations in Kubwa, if implemented would further destroy the Abuja Master Plan.

A source told LEADERSHIP that the committee, whose report is before the minister for signing recommended among other things that the only green area in FO1 layout be allocated to people for residential purposes thereby undermining the dictates of the original plan of the town.

Efforts to reach the director, FCT Parks and Garden, Alhaji Ali Ukele to speak on the arbitrary conversion of open spaces ended in futility as he neither picked nor returned calls made to him. However, only recently, the minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Malam Muhammad Musa Bello disclosed that plans were on for a holistic review of the 38-year master plan of Abuja to ensure that some of the wrongs perpetuated in the past were corrected. He said that the administration was jealously guarding the implementation of the master plan.



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