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Issues On Lagos Mega City

helipad; first state-owned medical helipad
Posted: Jul 20, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

 

Oshodi, that part of Lagos which used to instill terror in the heart of Lagosians before some intervention by the immediate past administration of Lagos State, is about to undergo urban regeneration again. Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s administration is in the process of turning the place into a Central Business District (CBD), which will further drive the plan to turn Lagos into a Mega City.

Recently some markets and motor parks were demolished for the purpose of constructing Shopping Malls and Bus Terminals, as part of the regeneration plan. While this project seems laudable, it has, however, begun to leave in its wake casualties whose stalls have been bulldozed, thereby obliterating their sources of income.

The Lagos State Government, for so long, has acted in the interest of the people by coming up with urban regeneration concepts that are supposed to make Lagos more beautiful. However, many of these infrastructure regeneration are Top-down development ideas that are neither participatory nor inclusive. This is the reason why very grand markets were built but their usage shut out the original owners due to the very exorbitant cost of acquiring shops.

Perhaps, the Lagos State Government needs to adopt a bottom- up approach in its regeneration plan because of the negative financial, economic and social consequences that could result from dislodging people who have used the markets for a long time to trade.

We believe that Urban renewal as shown in the Lagos mega city plan, is a welcome development in every modern society. However the government needs to bear in mind that to promote genuine development, every public programme should welcome interclass mutual needs and appreciation with the aim of introducing some measures of assured benefits for every category of people. This is even more so because the secondary effects mostly affect the poor. Government should always be mindful of their welfare and introduce appropriate assistance always as a means of cushioning the effect of any action that could lead to further impoverishment even when these actions are supposed to be for the development of the state.

Indeed research has shown that urban regeneration is better accepted and adopted when people and communities are involved in evolving ideas that are meant to better their environment.

Regeneration embarked upon in some countries like Brazil, Indonesia and  Europe showed that when Governments provide an outlet for citizens to contribute to policy making, it gives rise to improved and targeted responses to urban challenges. Communities are strengthened and the marginalised segments of society have a voice when issues concerning urban regeneration and social questions that threaten existence and livelihood arise.

When a Government exercises its power to act without putting into perspective the effects on the lower class and what the future holds for them, as occurred with the massive demolition of Oshodi and other markets for the purpose of urban regeneration, a new problem of another dimension is created that is different from what has led to the need for the urban regeneration. The city may turn into sprawling suburbs riddled with intense poverty because the regeneration only targets the infrastructure and not the people who should be beneficiaries of the improvement. Most traders, to avoid being financially strapped may leave the urban centres. This will lead to business and capital flight. In replacing these set of shop owners with Mall Stalls, business interaction will continue to become even more impersonal, thus reducing interpersonal interactions and relationships. This will lead to more erosion of the cultural values that are exchanged in conversations at the level of the small traders.

Perhaps the state government should strive to maintain the indigenous socio-economic values while re-working the inherited unplanned urban development. This is the only way by which the government can build a mega city that is not alien to Lagosians and whose workings will not continue to drive people into penury.