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Expert blames Govt over lack of Development in Bayelsa *Calls for immediate urban renewal

 By Aaron Azi

A fellow of Nigerian Institute of Architects and member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Nigeria), Arc. Ere Efeke has lambasted the Bayelsa state government over lack of genuine development in the state 26years of statehood.

Arc.Ere Efeke

Arc. Efeke made the assertion in an exclusive interview with Global Overseer Wednesday in Yenagoa, lamenting that the state lack all  indices of development such as enviable motorable roads, pipe  borne water, constant electricity supply, world class buildings amongst other basic infrastructures needed to enhance the socio-economic wellbeing of the people as well as industrialization and technological advancement of the state.

He called on the state government to use political will to embark on urban renewal of the state capital, Yenagoa, to enhance the facelift of the town as an oil producing state, adding that the present  status of Yenagoa environment as a state capital does not depict the title given to the state as 'Glory of All Lands. '

He decried the daily deteriorating environment of the state capital noting that there is no layout plan and development control, pointing out that buildings were built indiscriminately thus causing overflooding of the city even with a mere drop of rainfall; debarrig residents to have access to their houses owing to lack of drainages and gutters.

"When you go to other state's capitals and returned to your own state capital, Yenagoa and see how houses are built haphazardly without layout plan and development control, you drop spirit."

The renowned architect blames the prevailing scenario to government's failure to implement the Yenagoa Master since the state was created in 1996 that supposed to be used to achieve a wonderful town.

He urged the present administration of the state to take the bull by the horns to give the Bayelsa state Physical Planning Development Board the due authority to discharge its job effectively devoid of fear or favour to achieve a beffiting state capital which he described as the identity of Bayelsa state.

 Efeke also called for establishment  Local Government Area Physical Development Authorities to take care of the LGA headquarters, major towns and communities in order to avoid the current situation the people are experiencing in Yenagoa in the future.

Efeke said without mincing words that the pioneer Ministry of Lands and Housing and the Capital City  Development Authority (CCDA) now renamed Bayelsa State Physical Planning Development Board  failed to carry out their statutory responsibility to ensure that the content of Yenagoa Master Plan are followed accordingly.

The content of Yenagoa Master Plan he said has land use areas, industrial areas, commercial areas, residential areas, the neighborhood areas, farm areas, roads with a minimum of 6.3metres wide which must be laid out before people started building.

He regretted that the Yenagoa Master Plan which shows the landuse  including the business district was dumped as a 'Theory Book' without implementing.

 He accused the Board for it's failure to know that the board is an enforcement arm of the Master Plan, stating it only concentrate on plan approval without carrying out development control.

According to him development control is different from plan approval pointing out that before you go out for development control you must have the layout of the area, then you control the development of the area according to the layout plan of the area.

He explained that Government set up the Board to ensure that there is development control in the state. He questioned what the board has been doing since the state was created that the Yenagoa Master Plan was not  followed to give the state capital a beffiting look?

"I have told them severally that they have not been doing their right job. If they are doing their right job there is cause and effect. If you are doing a right job, this state, does it look like a state where they are doing good job? They are not doing the best. They are not doing the right thing. They know they are not doing the right thing. Now, how do we control it? This town, does it look like a town that people are doing good job as they claim? Everyday we are telling them from where you are start there and move forward, " he stated.

According to Arc Efeke the right thing to do is that every virgin land must be surveyed by a land surveyor and handed over to a town planner or a firm to design the land layout before plots should be allocated for buildings.

That is what I'm telling you about development control. How can you control development when you don’t know the development that is  going to take place there?  The plot you want to sell now, is it a commercial, residential or industrial plot? And then, what is the area to be build up? How many families? So, those are the things we are talking about, " he averred.

He lamented over the current challenges the residents in the Bayelsa state capital are facing arising from the poor performance of the board that led to the overflooding of the state capital, debarrig residents access to their houses.

He called for construction of massive enviable roads and drainages inline with the Yenagoa Master Plan to curb the menace of overflooding to enhance the facelift of the town and alleviate the plights of the people.

‘The normal thing to do, government should embark on massive road construction. Every building you see should have road to connect, two plots you have a road. That is the normal setting. That is how a town supposed to be laid out. Every house supposed to face a road. Is it done so here? People just follow track to their houses while some people at the back don't even know that there is a road. Many land lord's there is no way to access to their houses. The houses are not even facing the residential roads. They park their cars on the streets. "

He enjoined  the board to be alive to it's statutory responsibilities, adding that they should shun staying in the office to collecting money for plan approval without seeing the layout of the town.

He advocated for the inclusion  of urban renewal of Yenagoa  Metropolis in the state 2024 budget , and charged the legislative arm whom he described as the policeman of the executive arm of the state government to use it's oversight function to supervise the project to ensure it completion.

He made it clear that the project will engulf much money including payment of compensation for the houses that would be destroyed and construction of good roads and gutters.

He advised the state government to always expedite action on any area of land it want to plan so that the people will go in and develop the area according to the laid out plan.

This he said will stop people taking the risk to start building to deface the area, noting that the people are faster executing their buildings than government.

He highlighted the significance of the urban renewal of the state capital and stressed the need to  involve experts to ensure that proper work is done for durability and for the comfort of the people.

He warned the state government and the people to desist from the habit of engaging quacks in the execution of  public and private projects, particularly buildings to guard against the incidence of collapsed buildings in future saying that the building industry is very critical and dangerous because it deals with lives.

Reacting to insinuations alleging that Bayelsa state development is very slow and most underdeveloped state in the federation despite the enormous resources accruing into it coffer 26year of statehood, Arc Efeke stated categorically that development is not something that is hiding and nobody will say Bayelsa is developed.

He pointed out that if you go to Abuja, Dubai and New York just to mention a few you know that they are developed cities; but if you come to Yenagoa, Bayelsa state capital, he asked, is it developed?

"Yenagoa is not a developed town. If you stand in front of some buildings, do you feel happy? Everybody that come to Yenagoa know that Yenagoa is begging for development.

Here, almost everybody is parking cars on the main roads.s that a developed town?

"Sometime, when we talk of development people take it politically. We are not in favour of government. We are not  against the government. We are professionals. I'm just for development.

'I am an architect. I talk like an architect. I said this town is begging for development. I'm just for development. Development is a scientific thing. Scientific means you can measure," Arc Efeke.

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