Lagos, Nigerian Upcoming Mega City with 42 Slums

Obinna Ezeobi

Lagos is Nigeria's commercial hub, a city that is creating wealth quickly and growing chaotically. Its corruption-corroded infrastructure is losing the race with growth, and its boom areas along the coast could lose their bet with Mother Nature. Once a center for Portuguese slave traders, then a British colony, the city is growing 8% a year. About 6,000 people move to Lagos every day, adding to its already bursting population of 15 million to 18 million people. The U.N. estimates the city will swell to 25 million by 2015. The poor arrive to escape the poverty of rural Nigeria and nearby countries; the wealthier, to escape the violence and kidnappings in the country's oil-rich delta region.

Lagos generates $85 million in revenue a month, according to government officials, and hopes to keep the cash flowing so it will have one of the 20 largest city economies by 2020.

The centre of excellence as Lagos State prides itself has 42 slums, with the figure actually outnumbering well managed neighbourhoods according to a World Bank study.

The Minister of State for Environment, Housing and Urban Development, Chief Chuka Odom, who stated this at the press conference commemorating the 2008 World Habitat day, explained that the Lagos case study mirrored the large extent of the situation in many other Nigerian cities.

According to him, “the preponderance of slums are symptoms of urban poverty in the midst of affluence and evidence of the failure of urban system to guarantee even distribution of land, basic services and wealth to all categories of urban dwellers.

“The occurrence of slums alongside rich urban neighbourhoods is seething pot of unrest and a glaring proof of disharmony in our cities.”

Odom explained that the Federal Government had produced strategic regional development plans for each of the six geo-political zones, which sought to achieve integrated social, economic and physical developments objectives for these regions.

He further stated that the promotion of good urban governance was relevant in addressing the challenges or urbanisation as it provided a good platform for effective and participatory planning and management of cities to ensure access to land, adequate shelter and functioning basic services.

He said that harmonious development was best achieved when gulfs and gaps that tended to divide several development efforts were removed and seamless interconnectivity was ensured.

Odom added that the ministry had established a National Housing Data Bank programme which would serve as the collection and management of computerised human settlement data, which would be used for orderly and harmonious planning in Nigeria in the nearest future.

Odom also explained that the ministry was involved in several activities aimed at regenerating blighted urban areas and slums.

The activities, according to him, will include the preparation of technical reports and execution of infrastructure replacements projects.

Some of the areas to benefit include Kurna Asabe in Kano, Ijora Badia in Lagos, Okpoko in Onitsha, Anambra State, Ukwu/ Obuda/Omuokpoji-Aba in Abia State.

He added that, “For each of these locations, these reports provided current assessment of infrastructure and basic services, identified priority projects and submitted preliminary estimates for funding of some projects.”

In his goodwill message to mark the day, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki Moon, who stressed the implication of this year’s theme, “Harmonious Cities,” stated that “Our rapidly urbanizing world cannot claim to be harmonious if slum dwellers do not enjoy opportunities to find jobs and improve their living conditions.”

He insisted that the world would not be harmonious if the growth and expansion of urban areas come at the expense of the natural environment.

He recalled that the Millennium Development Goals, the set of anti-poverty targets world leaders committed to in 2000, aimed for a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.

“Cities have tremendous potential to be places where balanced development prevails, where diverse people live in harmony, and where healthy living conditions coexist with low levels of energy consumption, resource-use and waste,” Ban said.

He charged all partners and stakeholders to do their utmost to realise this potential, and to build decent living conditions for all women, men and children in a way that also preserves the world’s natural heritage and promotes greener and smarter growth.

Also in her message, the Executive Director, UN-HABITAT, Dr. Anna Tibaijuka, said that with the number of urban slum dwellers worldwide which was moving above the one billion mark and rising urban poverty was one of today’s biggest development challenges.

He said, “We have both a moral and ethical responsibility to make our cities more harmonious by making them more inclusive. It is a societal imperative that we fight urban poverty and squalor if we are to secure urban safety and security.”

Tibaijuka said that it was no coincidence that climate change was emerging at the forefront of international debate at the same time as the world became more urbanised.

“Cities consume upwards of 75 per cent of all energy and contribute to an equally substantial amount of green house gas emissions. Cities must therefore be an integral part of any mitigation efforts,” she stated.

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Anonymous said...

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Samuel said...

what is the date of this please?