As urban renewal is one of the policy thrust of the present administration in Rivers State, the Nigeria Institute of Town Planners has advocated for the amendment of the 2003 Urban and Regional Planning Law in the state.
The chairman of Rivers State chapter of the Institute, Dr. Chris Ibeakuzie who made the position of the body known said the amendment was imperative since there is uncertainty about the position of the Ministry of Urban Development in the existing law.
Speaking in an exclusive chat with The Weekend Tide in Port Harcourt recently, the town planners’ boss disclosed that the 2003 urban and regional law yet to be implemented was signed into law by Dr. Peter Odili’s administration.
According to him, the Institute is particularly worried about a clause in the existing law which stipulates that a state planning Board should be created at the state level, National Planning Commission at the Federal level and Local Planning Authority at the local government levels.
He specifically pointed out that the problem lies with the state level because the people in the Ministry of Urban Development are not sure of what would happen in the event of the implementation of the law.
Dr. Ibeakuzie revealed that the position of the body in the proposed amendment is that the state planning board and the Ministry of Urban Development should exist respectively since the ministry has a commissioner that goes to the state executive council (Exco) meeting.
“If we have a board without a ministry, it means that our voice will not be heard at the exco. As I speak with you, the proposed amendment is on the table of the permanent secretary, Ministry of Urban Development” he stated.
He however, disclosed that the ministry wants to go on facts finding mission in Lagos, Imo and Anambra states where there is a ministry and a board respectively.
On the challenges of quacks, NITP chief executive insisted that the institute does not have quacks because planning is not what somebody would do as quack stressing that members are only concerned with making of plans such as master plan, comprehensive, city and rural plans.
Dr. Ibeakuzie who is also a lecturer in the department of Urban and Regional Planning in the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt expressed dissatisfaction over the ways and manner Port Harcourt is planned.
He told The Weekend Tide that Hon Chibuike Amadi on assumption of office as the governor of Rivers State was advised by professionals to reverse to Port Harcourt Master Plan already made by Chief Alfred Diete-Spiff military administration in 1975. He however, said that when the governor came up with the idea of Greater Port Harcourt City Development the professionals welcomed the noble vision.
Describing the non-implementation of the master plan by successive administrations in the state as unfortunate, he revealed that the masterplan stated out how the town would grow pointing out that if the plan was implemented, Port Harcourt would have been a beautiful city like Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Stories by Isaac Nwankwo