Nasarawa transforms slums


Nasarawa State is fighting the infrastructure battle under Governor Tanko al-Makura. The Nasarawa Geographic Information Service (NAGIS) has been up and doing in upgrading slums in the urban centres into habitable settlements, thereby re-integrating their inhabitants into a saner society defined by the availability of social amenities and public utilities.

Slums have been an eyesore in many towns. They pose a serious problem for government’s developmental efforts. Those who reside in them are exposed to health hazards, apart from lacking adequate sanitation, improved water supply, decent housing or adequate living space.

Worried by these challenges, Governor al-Makura inaugurated NAGIS a year ago. One of its terms of reference was providing a clear and detailed blueprint on general land use and district plans.

Under the first phase of the implementation, slums in Lafia, the state capital, Mararaba, Masaka and other settlements along the Abuja corridor, are expected to be addressed. The Commissioner for Lands and Town Planning, Mr. Sonny Agassi, who shed light on the slum upgrading policy, explained that it is essentially a strategy for environmental renewal. People around the areas are expected to receive a new orientation about better life through an improved access to adequate water supply, education, electricity and sewage services, he added.

Also, owing to the tenuous legal status of slum inhabitants, government is pushing for the legalisation of the right to the land on which slums are built.

Agassi stressed: “Slum upgrading’s goal is to transform these areas into decent housing areas. The concept of slum upgrading as espoused by the Al-Makura’s administration is a strategy for the improvement in a slum’s infrastructure which has become necessary after a period of unprecedented urban growth along the FCT corridor since the transference of the nation’s capital to Abuja”.

The commissioner said priority will be given to the transformation of Mararaba in Karu local government area. It is one of the rural agricultural areas along the Keffi-Abuja Expressway, encompassing Nyanya, Ado, New Karu, Masaka and Uke with an estimated population of 205,477people.

As a result of its closeness to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), its lands are targeted for a lot economic activities. The activities of the informal sector in these areas are uncoordinated. Many modes of transportation are used along the corridor, either to places of work, recreation or other businesses. These often lead to a chaotic situation on a daily basis.

There is no central water reticulation system or public supply. Residents access potable water by sinking boreholes. Some purchase from water vendors. Some dig wells. Many draw water from nearby streams.

Almakura has also expressed worry over the challenge of solid waste disposal along the Karu-Abuja road. In his view, the axis slum upgrade has become necessary because refuse is dumped indiscriminately because there was no designated site for refuse dumping or collection. The dumped refuse usually found their way into drains and waterways. When the drains are blocked, it could lead to flooding and other negative consequences.

Agasi explained that, after government has made provision for refuse dumping and collection sites, a new legislation prohibiting indiscriminate dumping of refuse would be enacted and mobile courts instituted to enforce environmental sanitation laws.