03Amidst criticisms over the handling of planning activities and deterioration of the environment, town planning professionals have picked up the gauntlet and listing strategies for planning, ensuring resilience and sustainable human settlements.
The town planners, under the umbrella of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), are also concerned that the government has not embraced urban and regional development plans for its projects, which has led to deformity in physical planning activities and environment management.
The planners are x-raying the issues under the theme, “Planning Human Settlements in Nigeria and Sustainability” at the 52nd National Conference/yearly general meeting from today in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The theme is intended to address issues related to the resilience of cities and other levels of human settlements in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, security challenges, poverty and other physical and social manifestations of shocks and stresses in the environment.
NITP president, Mr. Olutoyin Ayinde, told The Guardian last week, that the problems confronting the profession are that those at the helms of affairs in government do not appreciate the value of the act of physical planning and sustainable development.
According to him, town planning is misunderstood, misconceived and misconstrued in Nigeria. “What they understand as town planning is exactly what is not town planning. What they call town planning is the building plan approval process.
“The truth is that building plan approval is a downstream product of town planning. Every human settlement is meant to be planned,” he said.
One of the misconceptions about planning, Ayinde said, is that people think that it is the responsibility of town planners to plan our human settlements. “It is not the responsibility of town planners. It is the responsibility of the government to plan human settlements and implement them, while the planners will make it happen,” he added.
He said the Urban and Regional Law 2004 prescribed how town planning should be practiced. “We need plans from the national to the sub-national levels, like geo-political zones and regional, cities, towns and villages plans.”
NITP president explained that it is government policies that town planners translate to physical planning and development blueprint known as a master plan. “If the government does not take that responsibility, it is difficult for a town planner to take that responsibility.
“There is supposed to be a National Physical Development Plan, which is still in the preparation stages. All the geopolitical zones are also supposed to have a plan that establishes a relationship between them in terms of industries, agriculture and oil production as well as solid mineral developments.”
The town planners while advocating cooperation amongst adjoining states, also called on state governments to prepare regional plans as such plan will determine the use and direction of development.