FOLLOWING the submission of the report of a technical committee on Policy Reforms on Planning Regulation and Building Control, the Lagos authorities may have endorsed a policy reform initiative that will overhaul the state's physical planning and urban development framework, as it forges towards consolidation of its of a megacity status.
The reform blueprint, tagged the Lagos Habitat 2011 Project, is the product of a 16-member committee, led by Brigadier-General Reis. Members were drawn from state chapters of professional bodies in the built environment and the public sector. The gazette of the committee's recommendations has been drafted and is to be signed into law in a few weeks. The main objectives of the reform package are to:
modernize extant regulations towards the transformation of Lagos into Africa's model mega city;
halt the increasing frequency of building collapse in Lagos;
establish a building control system to minimize the incidence of various building defects arising from bad design, inferior materials and construction leading to fire and health hazards;
to create processes and institutions for effective enforcement of the regulations;
eradicate uncontrolled development due to fast-paced growth in the state;
reduction of slums towards attainment of the Millennium Development Goals and saving the unnecessary cost of relocating slum dwellers;
mitigate security threats posed by several abandoned buildings in the state;
address the prevalent loss of skills amongst building professionals due to lack of statutory certification and continuous education;
enforce structured accreditation procedures for workmen;
formulate a sustainable physical planning and urban development policy for Lagos State;
identify all Government Agencies responsible for lands and development matters with a view to coordinating their activities.
High among the recommendations of the committee is the setting up of the Habitat 2011 board and the branding of all building materials, such as cement blocks, to enable the government to trace the makers. Other major highlights of the new law include the restructuring of the Lagos Physical Planning and Development Authority for operational effectiveness and separate building control from existing framework for planning approval, pending creation of Lagos building Control Agency (LABCA).
Similarly, there would be the review the regional plan for Lagos and prepare development plans for all levels in the state as well as refocus masterplan already commissioned to concentrate on upgrading of infrastructure and improvement of existing development. The on going model city plans are to be replaced with development guides in all local communities and towns, which will act as briefs for regional plan reviews.
The state also plans to set up planning approval appeal committee at the local government level and appeal tribunal at the state level.
Confirming the details last week at the general meeting/presentation of Policy Reforms on Planning Regulation and Building Control organised by Association of Consulting Architects Nigeria (ACAN), Brig-General Reis said in order to exercise control over the quality of materials, the committee recommended the accreditation of all those involved in the building industry from artisans right up to professionals and also building materials suppliers.
The new policy has also provided for a Habitat Centre, a one-stop professional building modeled after the London Building Centre, which caters for the professional groups in the state for easy cooperation and collaboration. The centre will disseminate relevant government publications and display innovative building materials and technology.
Under the new policy framework, the government is expected to conduct a state wide housing needs survey to determine the actual deficit. "Housing is key driver to the environment and the economy. If government embarks on a large scale programme every body will be employed. Right now no body is doing housing seriously. The beauty of housing is that it does not require government's money. All that is required is the political will, " according to the Reis.
Essentially, there will also be a complete reorganization of the town planning approvals processes. A new agency known as Lagos State Physical Planning Agency (LAPPA) is expected to take charge of planning regulation. The LABCA would take over enforcement and demolitions and within the agency; private building certifiers are expected to emerge. Some professional firms could have building control units existing side by side with their practice after getting accreditation with the government.
Another changes coming is the establishment of a community development consortia, which will comprise teams of built environment professionals and representatives of the communities responsible for identifiable neighbourhoods. They are expected to take up all issues in their domain such as infrastructure, building control and urban regeneration through their masterplan as well as act as intermediary between the government and prospective homeowners.
He advised the architects to always make their grievances or suggestion known to government and to initiate projects that will better the life of Lagosians.
Meanwhile, ANAN President, Mr. Roti Delano said that the association is working on a new scale of fees, which will become operation in May. "The 1996 fee scale which most of us are compelled to use is obsolete. Apart from the fact that inflation has made it unrealistic, the deliverables demanded by clients now has changed. Technology has changed. Costs have gone up. In 1996, there was no Internet, no mobile phones; computerization was at its infancy. There is therefore a need for us to critically look at our compensation and take our destiny in our hands.
"We are all aware that our clients who engage foreign architects pay a lot more than we Nigerian get, however the argument has always been that we do not deliver. We believe that with appropriate fee, the Nigerian architects can deliver a lot more than the foreign architect can deliver."
Mr. Delano disclosed that the association started to tackle the issue of incursion by foreign architect and has written to appropriate institutes in South Africa to acquaint them with the matter.
"We therefore need to ensure that foreign architects do not invade us and take up the juicy jobs, which will in return make us jobless. We must be prepared and find ways and means of surviving the global economic crunch," he said.