A non-governmental organisation, Housing Development Advocacy Network (HDAN), has called on the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Muhammad Bello, to declare a state of emergency on land racketeering in the FCT.
The Executive Director of the group, Festus Adebayo, made the call on Tuesday during an interview with LEADERSHIP in Abuja.
Adebayo noted that there was an increasing level of land racketeering in the FCT, adding that it was necessary to raise the alarm for the attention of those in charge of the Administration to avoid the loss of investments in the nation’s capital.
He said that even though there were many fake and political developers and land racketeers, there were also many genuine developers who want to invest in the FCT but the genuine developers were at the risk of land racketeers.
“The master plan of FCT is in disarray, it requires surgical operation and the FCT minister must declare a state of emergency on the FCT urban planning system.So many damages have been done . The system is no more going in line with those who saw the vision of the FCT and gave the master plan.
“Firstly, the number one problem with the planning of FCT is there is no detailed information on existing approved layouts- resulting in fake layouts overlapping it. This information, if it is made public can enable investors to know the right information that will save them from falling victim of land racketeers.”
According to him, “the unfortunate situation is when some bad eggs in government are supporting the business of those who are doing racketeering in destroying the FCT master plan for selfish reason.
“Today, 70 percent of cases in courts in the FCT are land related, which is why the real estate sector in the nation’s capital is at a risk . According to him “for us in HDAN we cannot fold our arms and allow some criminals to destroy our sector ”.
He added that where there is inadequate information about the existing layout, the public will continue to fall victim to sharp practices resulting in demolition all the time in some areas.
“We are calling on the government of the FCT to look into the areas where the planning system of the FCT has been abused,” he said.
Adebayo explained that even with the suspension of issuance of building plan approvals to area council plots, people are still building, mostly substandard buildings and the government is grossly losing revenue. Almost 70% of area council plots do not have building plan approvals. A random sample survey can be done to verify this, he added.
According to stakeholders, before a demolition exercise is carried out, there has to be an order from the FCT urban and regional planning tribunal. However, the demolition is now at the discretion of the task force.
Most demolitions are supposed to be followed by implementing a use or activity on the reclaimed land. However, nothing is done after demolition, hence after some time, the illegal activity gradually creeps back again. Other areas have been marked for action and nothing is being done about them.
According to him, most of the estates that are products of land racketeering are built in a hurry, and most of them do not have the basic facilities required for decent shelter.
He further said that it is time for the FCT administration to do two things, first, to create a platform for educating people on what they should know and what they should ask whenever they want to buy property in FCT.
Adding that, “We are asking the FCT to set up a new department to be called urban renewal department that will be saddled with the responsibility of redevelopment and upgrading, it will also identify areas of action and involve standards for sustainable action.
While emphasizing that the minister has to declare a state of emergency before it is too late, the HDAN Boss said “we are also calling on the directors of development control, urban and regional planning, lands, and AGIS to please come together and think out of the box on how to salvage urban planning system of the FCT that land racketeers have destroyed.