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1.1 Background to the Study: THE EFFECT OF POOR PLANNING POLICIES AND PRACTICES ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF ABRAKA TOWN, DELTA STATE-NIGERIA
Studies such as Agbola (2017), has shown that poor planning policies and practice has an adverse effect on the development of Abraka town. In recent time, Abraka as an urban center has been faced with poor physical planning and infrastructural development. Planning policies in Abraka has been very poor due to none implementation of urban land use act and master plan. This is because the government of Delta State has neglected Abraka town in its planning processes. It was not until recently that the Okowa administration began developing the region in terms of road construction and rehabilitation (Fred, 2017).
The administration of physical planning has been the responsibility of all the tiers of government in Nigeria over the years (Agbola and Agbola, 2017). The extent of involvement of each level of government is dictated by the operatives of the various town and planning legislation as well as the nation’s constitution, (Nwobodo, 2011). Towns like Port Harcourt, Aba, Minna, Jos and Kaduna and Enugu have experienced extensive physical and infrastructural developments. These developments have been under the application of early town and country planning ordinance No. 29 of 1917, the 1959 town and country planning ordinance, and the 1992 urban and Regional Planning law. The applicability of these laws plus a reasonable increase in the number of town planning authorities in metropolis and towns were all meant to re-enforce the control of physical development in Nigerian cities and towns.
Planning policies and urban planning are mostly used interchangeably. Urban planning is a technical and political process concerned with the development and use of land, protection and use of the environment, public welfare, and the design of the urban environment, including air, water, and the infrastructure passing into and out of urban areas, such as transportation, communications, and distribution networks (Kristen, 2015)
As cities become the center piece of contemporary development and as land become more scarce and inaccessible for requisite developmental purposes, the quest to ration supply and control or regulate its use, become more compelling. This is the rationale for the involvement and enactment of various land use control laws and regulations designed to safeguard, conserve, disburse and regulate the use of land in the interest of the overall public interest (Agbola, 2017). Such laws include; zoning regulations, building bye-laws; density control, land acquisition laws; effluent discharge laws etc. the functions of evolving and enforcing land use regulations development control, good/proper building practices and resolving conflicting land interest ultimate goal is to achieve a healthy, conducive , satisfying and pleasing environment in which to pursue different kinds of human activities.
However, a healthy, conducive and satisfying environment may not evolve from human settlement unless there is adequate provision for proper planning and development, monitoring and control of housing units. The use of proper planning to ensure good development can be eminent in many cities and towns such that it promotes and gives room for adequate land allocation like good road networks, well spaced building, schools, playground, churches, buildings for social purposes e.g. Halls etc.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that five million deaths and another two or three million eases of permanent disability could be prevented annually if proper planning of housing conditions could meet a safe standard level. In most cases countries of the world, proper planning policies and regulations of buildings represent a collection of current and past wisdom on what constitutes a building in a vicinity that is both safe and will not impair the health of occupants due to proper planning policies (Fred, 2017).
Indiscriminate buildings and shops (caravan) as taken its toll in the study area (Abraka), where these buildings/caravan blocks part of the road or a drainage channel. Places such as Ekrejeta, Ivie road, campus 4 road etc, to mention a few are characterized by such obstruction. Although, roads are currently under construction with drainage but this drainage are not well connected i.e No proper drainage network, e.g (Winners road, Umono road, College road) and this will bring about negative impact to development i.e flood, because of bad or no drainage channel.
Radcliff (2016) said that the use of the land has been identified as a function of virtually all forms of production. Land is required for various uses in both the urban and local rural areas of all society (Agbola, 2017). As nations grow in size and rural areas become urban centers and urban centers become large metropolitan areas, there is always increased competition as demand for land for different purposes. This requires adequate planning and control to ensure harmonious development and functional efficiency of their uses and settlements (Mila, 2016).
It has been observed that poor physical planning and lack of planning policies in Abraka has led to the development of squatter and slum settlements in the interior part of the town. It is against this background that this study is carried out the effect of poor planning policies and practices on the development of Abraka town.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
In Abraka, poor planning policies, practices and non-developmental control have become part of the town such that people who wish to build, be it for either private residential use or hostels, do so without putting into consideration some important details. Details such as drainage, proper space in the vicinity of the residential buildings, and the building in general etc. Ignorance of the builders, shortcut methods used while building or erecting a shop or mounting a caravan which tends to obstruct or contravene proper developmental plan, and at the long run does not go according to the original building plans after getting their building permit at the town planning office.
Developmental control function which ought to be the work of town planning officers is not dutifully carried out. This can be associated with inadequate facilities and materials to carry out their work such as trucks or pick-up van for mobility and inspection to sites, manpower and funds from government. In addition there should be a program to sensitize the populace about proper planning practices and developmental control (Mila, 2016).
Studies have shown that physical planning is one of the great milestones in human history. It is fundamental, in the sense that the Industrial Revolution in Nigerian was fundamental. For the first time in history, a majority of the world's six billion people are living in cities. Between 2000 and 2025, the world's urban population will double (Peter, 2015).
The advent of 2007 marks the year when, for the first time in the history of humanity, half the world’s population will be living in cities. Urban populations are expected to increase by 1.5 billion over the next 20 years, while the number of megacities will double. By 2015 the UN predicts that there will be 358 "million cities" with one million or more people and mega-cities with ten million or more. Much of this growth will happen in developing countries (Taylor, 2007).
The scale and pace of urbanization is opening up unforeseen possibilities. Large concentrations of people and goods provide increased opportunities for creativity, larger labor markets, and higher levels of productivity, not to speak of the cultural and political opportunities associated with urban life (Peter, 2015). Urban explosion also poses daunting challenges. It can result in unemployment and insufficient investment in basic services with the resulting environmental and social problems (Davreu, 2008).
Most cities today are played with a plethora of physical environmental and social problems. These problem(s) ranges from immense traffic congestion, air pollution, high crime rate, obesity, and other related health challenges amongst many others (Kolb, 2014). These problems are ubiquitous and are found in most cities. The aforementioned problem is endemic in Enugu as the lack of planning has exacerbated the situation, as Abraka experiences enormous traffic congestion and the resultant air pollution. The case of Abraka is no different as residents of Abraka are heavily reliant on the automobile thus resulting in intense traffic congestion and enhanced levels or air pollution.
In addition, the over reliance on the automobile has created a situation where people are “Physically not active” and as such are susceptible to health issues such as obesity, high blood pressure and other heart related conditions. Peter (2015) recognize that physical solutions by themselves will not solve social and economic problems, but neither can economic vitality, community stability, and environmental health be sustained without a coherent and supportive physical framework. Sadly, urban planning is accompanied by no such equally cohesive or persuasive set of non-physical solutions. Because the physical planning “toolkit” contains mostly design and planning solutions, it is those solutions that are likely to be adopted. Furthermore, physical solutions may be favoured because they allow expedient and highly visible improvements. Although challenging, physical problems are often easier to improve than the entrenched issues of poor schools and chronic unemployment (Pyatok, 2000a).
Urban planning contains many laudable ideas for improving physical environments. Where groups differ in education, income, and so on, however, physical changes may not emerge as the highest priority of all residents. Many urban neighbourhoods face serious problems, including poverty, joblessness, poor schools, and so forth. The question thus becomes not only whether physical solutions will indeed ameliorate the problems they seek to address (the charge of environmental degradation) but rather the more fundamental question of which problems to address-for example, improving services and/or improving home values (Peter, 2015). Lower-income groups and those with greatest need may prefer to concentrate limited public resources on pressing social issues. To question the expenditure of public spending on sticks and bricks instead of intensive tutorials, serious job training, educational trust fund for residents, micro loans for small businesses, and perhaps spending less on physical improvements with only enough to meet codes and repairs is simply not tolerated (Pyatok, 2000a).
Such was the case of Abraka town. Through home dialogues that supplemented the mainland specific plan process, Abraka residents (including many lower-income renters) advocated six primary recommendations, which included enhancing communication between the Abraka and her residents, increasing public safety, and improving recreational and educational opportunities for youth. These issues arguably have physical planning implications, but those are secondary.