Demolition of illegal structures in Aba not witch-hunt – Official

The Special Adviser to Governor Alex Otti of Abia State on Aba Urban Rejuvenation, Mr Uche Ukeje, has said the ongoing demolition of illegal structures in Aba, the state capital, is not a witch-hunt but an exercise to correct planning errors.

Demolition teams of town planning authorities in Aba removed some structures in Aba North, Aba South, Osisioma, Obingwa and Ugwunagbor areas on Friday.

Ukeje told newsmen that lack of political will on the part of former administrations in the state became a big challenge for planning authorities and resulted in unmitigated urban sprawl in the capital.

“The challenge of building according to plan in Abia had both been the failure and lack of the political will on the part of government.

“The right thing to do is that government plans before people move into an area.

“That way, we will be able to structure development, control land use, and determine how the city develops.

“In the past 24 years, no government has tried to update the Master plan for our cities.

“There has been what is called urban sprawl; the city has grown without control,’’ he said.

He noted that people did what they liked in the past because the planning authorities were not empowered to enforce the rules; and this resulted in suffocating the city.

Ukeje lamented that if left in its present state, Aba would grow into an unmanageable city with people erecting structures against the purpose clause of their plans.

“Boutiques dot everywhere; residential houses have been turned into warehouses and offices, and the government is now communicating and enforcing the rule at the same time,’’ he said.

He added that a new master plan would be prepared, and new areas where authorised development could take place would be opened up.

He stressed that the urban sprawl would no longer be tolerated in Aba as planning authorities had been given the responsibility to align what had been developed to a structured form.

He said that infrastructure, including roads, electricity, and water, would be extended to unplanned places without necessarily destroying the entire environment.

The exercise also entailed the sealing of an unapproved set of shops being erected near Ariaria International Market in the Osisioma Local Government Area. (NAN)

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