Laxity On Physical Planning Robs Edo Of Property Revenue
Negligence by physical planning authorities over the years has left the built sector in Edo State in chaos, with government losing billions of naira that would have accrued to its coffers from land administration and property revenue.
For years, buildings were erected without approval from the town planning authorities and were not supervised by professionals.
Recently, Governor Godwin Obaseki cried out that 90 per cent of buildings in the state were without plan and approval from the appropriate authorities.
Gov Obaseki said, “Obtaining building plan is one aspect people take for granted when erecting their structures in the state.”
He also said about 75 per cent of structures were not built by professionals, noting that the decay in the system created loopholes leading to building collapse.
He said, “The failure in the system starts from town planning, but town planning seems to have been neglected. This is affecting the building industry.”
“Today, visit a development area, you will discover that not up to 10 per cent have a building plan. We are working on correcting this abnormality.”
However, the commissioner for physical planning, urban and regional development, Isoken Omo, said the ministry had started “Operation Show Your Building Plan”, which encouraged all land developers to come for their building plan.
She said the exercise was to capture all buildings into the Edo State master plan necessary for development.
Speaking on the development, a town planner, Engr Fatai Dirisu, said the essence of an approved building plan was to ensure compatibility of building in an environment.
He said, “The planned approval will bring in professionals who would determine whether the structure is suitable in the area it is located or not. If a building is not well located, the functionality of the building would not be enjoyed by the occupants.”
He further said the development had resulted in many building collapse incidents and substandard buildings as there were no inputs from town planners, structural engineers, architects and others in erecting structures.
He explained that, “Before approval, a structural engineer will look at the type of materials and iron to be used, while the town planner will look into the functionality of the building; whether it is well cited or not and whether the occupants will enjoy the facilities.
“The implication of not getting approval is that apart from the hazards it poses to the environment when such building collapses, it also deprives the government of revenue, because people would have to pay a token for the approval.”
On his part, Umar Jaffar Abu, a structural engineer, described the development as pathetic.
He blamed the development on government’s laxity, as well as some of the developers who he accused of cutting corners.
He said, “Because government is not serious about implementing the laws, people just ignore the building plan and approval aspect and just look for somebody to give a working drawing and start building.
“The way it ought to be is that when you get your building plan, pass it to the structural engineer who would design the building to suit the particular environment, and before commencing building, the soil engineer will have to test the soil to know if it can withstand the structure; whether it is a bungalow or one or two-storey.”
He added that the laxity of authorities had led to most developers using substandard building materials.
Also speaking, Kabir Mochi, another structural engineer, lamented that most of the building collapse cases were due to non-compliance with building laws.
He said the way out was for the concerned authorities to carry out close monitoring of building construction and ensure it was supervised by professionals.
Meanwhile, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Physical Planning, Urban and Regional Development, Mrs Grace Aihie, said the ministry had embarked on a sensitisation to enlighten the people on what they should do before commencing building development to ensure orderliness in the sector.
She said, “There are places, such as right of way, high tension and channel that one can’t build on or under. When any structure is erected in such place, it would be brought down.
“We are already doing operation show your building plan in Amagba and will soon go to other areas to enlighten them because we have discovered that some people don’t know what to do while others just feign ignorance.”
She, therefore, advised that before developing a land, people should go to the GIS to know whether such place was suitable to build or not, whether it is government land or not, among others, adding that it took two weeks to issue a certificate of occupancy (C of O) under normal circumstances.
She further said, “We do daily enforcement now by going round to see what the people are doing and stop those who are doing the wrong things, and it is yielding benefits as people are coming to the office to ask questions.”