By: IfeanyiChukwu Afuba
Anambra State Physical Planning Board says the rate of building collapse has drastically reduced in the State in the last three years.
Executive Secretary of the Board, Barrister Chike Maduekwe made the assertion while speaking in Awka on the activities of the town planning authority in the State.
Maduekwe said the higher index of building safety in the State has been achieved with greater enforcement of standards through strong support from Governor Willie Obiano.
“For anything you want to build in the State, you must get a permit and this is for the Board to make sure that you are building properly in the right place; especially with regard to the clause of the land and the layout. For instance, you cannot put a gas plant in a predominantly residential area”.
The Executive Secretary observed that while continued public enlightenment was necessary, the experience of the three years since the inauguration of the Board showed that the will to act was even more important.
“There is this problem of impunity when people know what to do but don’t bother. We found out that there were many people who classify themselves as big men, untouchables. But with the backing of the Governor, we’ve taken enforcement of the law to another level. When developers go ahead to build without permit, we bring the structure down. Anywhere you put your house in a water way, we must remove it because it’s in the public interest that we have water channels” he emphasised.
Maduekwe said that in line with the mandate of the establishment to ensure that Anambra State is planned and that the environment does not decay, the Board had had to take the tough decision to demolish some slums.
“We went to Kara and couldn’t believe what happens there. We saw shanties where they do child prostitution. We removed all the structures. The most dangerous operation was that of Marine also in Onitsha. Marine was so bad that successive regimes failed to act. But with the joint Navy, Police and Ocha Brigade team, we brought down the shanties. After, the Governor addressed the people and gave them transport money to relocate”.
Maduekwe disclosed that the searchlight of the Board had also come on markets and a case by case review was currently going on.
“We decided to start from Nnewi. Early this year some people wanted to build 200 shops in one of the markets without permit. We moved in and insisted they can’t do that anymore”.
“There is the case of Mgbuka Obosi with most parts of it under electric power lines. Almost every week, we receive warning letter from TCN and EEDC. We have approached the traders but nobody is interested in moving. We’re still looking at the matter”.
On the mode of it’s policy implementation, Maduekwe explained that the focus was first on preventing new illegalities while carefully determining what remedies could be achieved with respect to past unapproved structures.
He assured that the Board was currently trying to recover Government land annexed or encroached upon by speculators at Igbariam Farm Settlement and also at Isuaniocha and called on the public to take advantage of the new automated, faster system now in place to obtain development permits within 24 hours.