Abuja Master Plan: The Missing Piece

The year was 2003, the government in place was committed to making progress from the previous tenure in this relatively fresh capital which was only established in 1976, so they appointed a few people that weren’t afraid of change and weren’t nervous about initiating it or so it seemed, Mr Nasir was one. Mr Nasir was committed and unlike many he was    Ruthless. Due to the unfortunate lack of strategic planning before a rapid urban development, which led to a series of problematic scenarios such as several hours in traffic among others, Lagos was dethroned as the capital city. So a master plan was introduced just three years after the relocation to Abuja, so many didn’t know of the plan even many years down the line, which proved that if you intended to hide a treasure from someone here, all you needed to do was put it in the middle of a book. Mr Nasir was indifferent, he had the master plan and he was committed to making the capital look like it with or without the permission of the previous occupants. He was soon nicknamed Mr Demolition. So, it began, and many were affected but alas the change was seen, some who despite the ignorance of the master plan found themselves away from harm’s way saw this as a welcome development, but admitted their rare privilege, as this time the elite weren’t spared. Anybody could be a target or so it seemed.

From the Pedestrian bridge at Area 1, Apo bridge is far away
Major roads were completed, parks were created, trees were planted, laws were made to ensure sanity and orderliness (they were enforced) and more estates were built among others. In summary, a lot of big things were done. The small things? The department of urban and regional planning has failed to live up to the bidding of its mission which is to create an efficient, attractive, liveable and functional environment for sustainable development of an inclusive city through physical planning as it ignored the little details that mean a lot to the common man, if not the pedestrian bridge between Area 1 and the Apo road bridge would not have been single and even if that was supposed to be the case, it could have been properly positioned. Probably this project wasn’t properly overseen like many others. This little thing leads to a lot of Jaywalking, which in most civilised countries is a crime, as it can not only cause harm to the person but also to another innocent fellow just going his way in a car or a truck. This is just to mention a few.

Street Light for Daytime Beautification
When I came back to Nigeria my sister teasingly told me “soon in Abuja they would send those of us without cars away” but how are car owner’s fairing in the capital city? It’s beginning to be the norm in the city of this magnitude, to go for cars with large fluorescent head lamps with a range of an entire street, figuratively. The street lights were meant to reduce the impact of this on the approaching vehicle, but street lights on major roads, including those with solar panels attached to them, are just dead, but they hang in there for day time beautification. These are major roads, imagine the dilemma of minor roads. So already the night driving has been set-up to produce a lot of accident and incident, meanwhile there was a department created, a distant 1979, to tackle problems like this that might arise in the capital.

With over forty percent of vehicles in this city used as cabs it’s required that much emphasis on standards for pick-up and drop-off of passengers are made, not to punish the taxi income makers but to support and protect them, and thereby increase their profit making tendencies. For instance, there are standards that are enforced on painted and registered taxis as they are not allowed into most premises both government and private, for the reason of security mostly, but unpainted and unregistered taxis are given the front role. No cab driver in his proper senses would look forward to being a registered member or have his cab painted the capital colours, since that actually cuts his privileges a lot more, so it’s safe to say that being an uncensored taxi driver is the dream of every public transport owner because that is where the money and honour dwells. Public transport users domiciled in this city actually find themselves saying things like “I’m going to the national assembly so I cannot use a painted taxi” nevertheless ninety-eight percent of crimes on public transport users are committed from unpainted and unregistered taxis. Secure means of transportation should be encouraged in a city as dynamic and a nation as integrated as this. But, this is also just a little thing.
No Proper Road Markings

It’s commonly said that in an African state if a person died and resurrected after a decade he wouldn’t get lost finding his home, this is not the case with a city like Abuja, I left her for like five years and when I returned I needed some crazy algebra not to get lost. This city is going through a transition and within the last couple of years the federal government had committed to finishing the major projects more than ever which is commendable. So, with all these projects on-going it was expected that proper road signs and markings be placed to clearly differentiate lanes and most importantly to help those coming and those going on a route, but that is not the case for some major roads and in some other areas where they exist they are faded or faint. And also proper road crossing marks should be in place to help the pedestrian trying to get from point A to B through a busy road were no pedestrian bridge existed, cast your imagination to a lady with two kids trying to cross the road without this laws adequately established and enforced, see how helpless she looks?
Abuja Airport Terminal

There are little details spread all over the city; from the airport trolley, which if you happened to use for the sake of assistance in luggage transportation, from your car to the airport or vice versa, by mistake or on purpose there would be an airport official waiting patiently at your final stop, with a bill for using the trolley despite there being no assistance of any kind from the official (any little help comes with a price tag on it, despite being a taxpayer), to the improperly placed bus and taxi stops that make taxi’s on most occasions to cramp under the nearest bridge without much care for other approaching vehicles. This is becoming the norm just like in the ex-capital, Lagos. They chose Beauty over Relevance. Class over Significance, they didn’t realise both could exist, but instead they limited their options and cancelled their adequate supervisions because they had the power of choice as they created the master plan. These little things, that are not so little are the difference between the good and the excellent. The missing piece in the Abuja Master Plan are these little things.

But, by the way I am just a bystander.

Follow: @dbystander1


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