Making Abuja A Modern City
More than 30 years after Abuja was first mooted, it has remained a city on construction so much so that most parts of the various areas and zones are yet to be implemented. The rush of successive administrations not to complete projects from previous ones have not helped matters in Abuja realizing its full potential as Africa’s primary model city.
However, that seeming elusive quest to make Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory a modern city seems to be on the back foot as Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, minister of the FCT Administration, is committed to completing all abandoned projects rather than embark on new ones.
On assumption of office on November 11, 2015, he stated that the main trust of his administration will be the completion of on-going or abandoned critical infrastructural projects.
He succinctly observed that Abuja was fast acquiring the image of a huge camp of abandoned projects and the gridlocks at strategic nodes of FCT highways and byways as a result of uncompleted road projects, or absence of finishing touches to major roads and utility projects.
Many connecting arterials were not completed, including ramps, pedestrian bridges, tangent roads, loops, interchanges and critical arterials.
These often made navigating the city a nightmare.
True to his avowal that fateful day, Bello has kept the faith as most of the roads, bridges and interchanges under construction or long abandoned have been completed. Pedestrian bridges have been serviced with walkways making them usable by members of the public. The number of projects completed is gradually unfolding the aesthetics and magnificence of the city. For example, the Inner Southern Express Way Bridge has been opened for public use.
The completed portion begins from AYA interchange and cuts off extended distances between AYA and Apo Roundabout, the Murtala Muhammed way and Aso drive making it easy for motorists to drive straight on to most part of Abuja’s main business district.
And having achieved enormous success in these areas, the administration is shifting focus to the satellite towns and area councils. Many rural infrastructure development as well as urban renewal projects are on the drawing board.
After a long wait, it is a matter of excitement as in a few weeks hence, Abuja residents will be getting ready for their train rides as work on the project has reached 98 percent completion.
The hope is that the train services will bring relief to the challenge of public transportation in the city. Airport travelers would now have a choice, either to board cabs on arrival or departure; or ride on trains from the airport train station to the Central Business District Central Station or vice versa.
Not oblivious of the economic importance of good road network, the administration has shown commitment to speedily complete the ongoing16.5Km Kuje-Gwagwalada road, traversing major agricultural firms and farmlands.
On the other hand, the administration is revving up a subsisting urban renewal partnership project for selected rural settlements. This is with a view to opening up the grassroots of the Territory to make them places where people could live, work and play. However, for Bello's vision to make Abuja a smart city achievable, he must strive to address the dearth in both Local Education Authority and the primary healthcare in the territory.
It is pathetic and disturbing to note that out of the 215 PHC facilities, only 202 are staffed with skeletal healthcare services, while the remaining 13 are without staff.
It is even more disturbing that out of the 202 PHC facilities that are running minimum services, only 27 have facilities to provide minimum Ward Health Care Package. In spite of the huge expenditures on PHC infrastructure and personnel, the subsector still appeared moribund.
It is equally unacceptable that a modern city like Abuja with all the facilities mentioned above, over 100 pupils take lessons in one classroom as revealed during inspection of public schools by the education secretariat board with some pupils either learning under leaking roofs or under trees.
To neglect these critical areas to the benefit of mere city aesthetics will amount to being pounds foolish, penny wise in the long run.
It is therefore imperative that these issues are addressed to have even development in the FCT.