The world is increasingly becoming urbanized and the rate at which city populations grow and countries urbanize is indicative of the pace of social and economic change (Donk 2006 quoted by Olujimi J 2009).The urban environment in the world have gone through various stages of deterioration which most of them can be attributed to poor planning practice, this is a very common phenomenon in Nigeria; where corrupt practice have interfered with planning activities all over the country. These conditions have posed great sustainable development challenges for urban centres in Nigeria.
Nigeria is one of the so-called economic giants in Africa, having a population of over 150 million people; the rate of urbanization growth in the country has put pressure on the existing infrastructure with increasing number of slums in the country. The urban infrastructural decay such as road network, lack of portable water supply, bad drainages and canals, poor housing and poor waste management systems have increased the environment threat within the urban populace ( Gbadegesin and Aluko, 2010).
Urban renewal is a planning strategy that has been introduced to improve urban conditions, which may have been observed to deteriorate in quality and efficiency. It is also described as the aggregate of techniques which have been used for the treatment of urban problems in a physical basis.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
The Wikipedia encyclopedia defines urban renewal as the program of land redevelopment in areas of moderate to high density urban land use. It may involve the relocation of business, demolition of structure, relocation of people and the use of eminent domain (government purchase for public purpose) as a legal instrument to take private property for city initiated development projects.
Another definition of urban renewal was put by encyclopedia Chicago to refer primarily to “the public efforts to revitalize aging and decaying inner cities and sub urban communities”. In other words; it is a planned process of city regeneration through an integrated program of slum clearance or redevelopment, rehabilitation and conservation.
Urban renewal is described as a planned attempt to transform the urban environment through structured large-scale control of existing urban areas to enhance both the present and future operations of urban populace (Osuide 2004, cited in Shuaeeb. H, 2011). It is also the deliberate physical redevelopment of decayed or deteriorated areas, improving the infrastructure and the removal of elements considered to affect the effectiveness and efficiency of the area.
Urban renewal programs also known as urban regeneration are initiated due to urban blight, and slum conditions.
Urban blight or urban decay is a situation whereby a previously functioning city, or part of a city, falls into disrepair and decrepitude.
Slum is a poor area of a city which is largely overcrowded with typically very bad housing condition.
Squatter settlement are areas not planned but mostly used as temporary dwellings occupied by migrants, examples are found in Chika, Mararaba areas of Abuja (FCT).
REASONS FOR URBAN RENEWAL
There is an increase in population living in very unhealthy conditions.
The number of aged building is increasing and residence at the risk of collapse buildings.
There is widening gap in Infrastructure between the populace and the environment.
Improve the quality of life of residents in the urban areas.
THE STRATEGIES OF URBAN RENEWAL
There are 3 basic steps of urban Renewal which vary according to scale and intensity of the operations carried out.
(a) Redevelopment: Filtration as described by Gbadegesin and Oladokun, T.T (2011) is based on the out – migration of households and employment followed by the clearance and redevelopment of vacated sites. It was potentially the most system – oriented of the approaches. This is a process of removing and replacing old and poor quality structures with new ones on the same site. In this case buildings and structures that have been considered to be substandard are completely demolished to create room for new buildings and structures; it is important to note that this is applied especially to areas with building that are beyond redemption and of no economic viability. Although this strategy of urban renewal has been criticized for using the “power of eminent domain” to take over properties from the poor, it is also very expensive to embark upon.
(b) Rehabilitation: This is a process of making some alteration or repair of the existing poor structures back to its original purpose. Jinadu (2006) refers to rehabilitation as the process of upgrading of a neighbourhood through general repairs, raising of the standard and improvement in housing stock and facilities. This strategy does not completely displace people from their economic and social activities, therefore most acceptable strategy. According to Gbadegesin and Oladokun, T.T (2011) the boot – strap strategy entails rehabilitation and is mainly confined to housing. It does not (or should not) involve the displacement of occupant and it is often thought that in economic terms, it is less costly than redevelopment.
(c) Conservation/Preservation: This is aimed at maintaining and preventing the deterioration of presently sound neighborhoods. (Jinadu, 2006)
PROCESSES OF URBAN RENEWAL
Urban renewal requires a careful and adequate planning process that will ensure that all activities are done through proper and acceptable standards. The following process are involved in how urban renewal is carried out.
(i) Designation of the area to be improved to ensure quality criteria such as housing condition facilities, drainage problem etc,
(ii) Investigation and study of the existing condition and characteristics of the designated Renewal areas.
(iii) Preparation of physical development plans such as land use plan, road plan, community facility plan and future improvement program to the area.
(iv) Establishment of relocation programme when the renewal will necessitate popular displacement.
(v) Programme implementation and evaluation.
There is need to consider the following process during the implementation of urban renewal;
Constitution of the implementation body.
Identification of sources of finance and mobilization of funds program implementation.
Displacement and relocation
Site improvement and facility location.
A CASE OF URBAN RENEWAL IN NIGERIA
The urban renewal efforts by the former minister of the Federal capital Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai was in response to the rate of urban deterioration and growth against the master plan of the capital city. The ministry embarked on demolition of substandard building and those built against the building standards of the master plan, because the government swore not allow disgruntled element to deface the federal capital territory. This may be good vision for the capital city but unfortunately it was the same government official who gave out lands and approve building plans for the so-called illegal buildings and structures.
Reasons for failures
Lack of Re-Settlement Plan: Urban regeneration plans in Abuja (FCT) has failed as in most cities in Nigeria to provide appropriate re-settlement plan for occupants. This has also further widened the gap between the rich and the poor.
Increased Poverty and Social Injustice: The policies in most cases lead to the increase of poverty and social injustice, especially as houses were demolished in the FCT; squatter settlements were created with increase insecurity.
Low-level of awareness: There is growing level of ignorance by most Nigerians about environmental protection and planning, therefore people stand to always object policies brought forward by the government. In addition there is no trust between the leaders and the led as most planning policies end up in favour of politicians who find themselves who find themselves in the corridor of power. Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai was found to have allocated properties to himself and friends; this gap between the rich and poor is cause for concern.
Insufficient Urban Built Environment Professionals: This is found in most government agencies and parastatals having very few skilled workforce, making it very difficult to embark of planning of urban centres.
Differences in Stakeholders Interest: most of the stakeholders involved both professionals and contractors and sometimes politicians have their own personal interest which is mostly regards to profit making at the expense of the project.
Lack of Infrastructural Database: The inadequate provision of database on infrastructure across urban centres in Nigeria has hindered the successful implementation of urban renewal in Nigeria. In addition, such database provides a planned preventive maintenance on urban infrastructure, which can sustain infrastructure and identify infrastructural decay within the urban environment. (Shuaeeb, H. 2011)
Urban renewal has been used by government improve the quality of life of the people but has faced many challenges that must be addressed in order for the policy to receive wider acceptance. Urban renewal must not be done on a strictly system oriented basis but must have a human face, after all; it is for the people. Therefore they must take part in planning their environment.
Gbadagesin, J.T and Aluko, B.T. (2010). The programme of urban renewal for sustainable urban development in Nigeria: Issues and challenges. Pakistan journal of social sciences 7(3)
Gbadegesin, J.T., Oladokun, T.T. And Ayorinde, O.I.(2011). Urban renewal as a tool for sustainable urban development in Nigeria: Issues and challenges. Journal of sustainable and environmental protection.1 (157).
George, C.K. (2008). Basic principles and methods of urban and regional planning.
Jinadu, A. M. (2004). Understanding the basics of housing. King James publishers, Minna, Nigeria.
Olujimi, J. (2009). Evolving a planning strategy for managing urban sprawl in Nigeria. Journal of human ecology, 25(3)
Osuide, H. (2011). Strategies for affordable housing stock delivery in Nigeria. 18th inaugural lecture of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma. Benin City: Floreat systems.
Shuaeeb, H. (2011). Urban renewal in Nigeria: The sustainable environment dimension.
By Charles Kyom Bijimi