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

On-going demolition of illegal structures in Aba, Abia, is not a witch-hunt, but an exercise to correct planning errors, Mr Uche Ukeje, Special Adviser to Gov. Alex Otti on Aba Urban Rejuvenation has said.

Demolition teams of Town Planning Authorities in Aba City 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 Abia became a big challenge for planning authorities and resulted in unmitigated urban sprawl in Aba.

“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 government is now communicating and enforcing the rule at the same time,’’ he said.

Ukeje 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; water would be extended to unplanned places without necessarily destroying the entire environment.

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