Cumulative low investment in and poor maintenance of national social and economic infrastructure over the years are responsible for the deficit in urban infrastructure estimated to run into trillions of naira, experts have said.
The experts add that rapid urbanisation, urban sprawl and poor governance traits, such as lack of transparency and accountability as well as massive corruption have deprived the country’s urban areas of the much needed hard and soft infrastructure, noting that this has impacted negatively on economic growth, hampered progress and prosperity as well as impoverished the people.
Adegoke Akinbamide Omobayo of Osun State College of Technology, Esa-Oke, who stated this at a forum, also said that poor infrastructure has deprived most urban dwellers of access to the economic network of the city with the attendant urbanisation of poverty.
BusinessDay had earlier reported that infrastructure deficit in Nigeria puts 15 percent additional burden on the cost of doing business in the country.
Obiageli Ezekwesili, former minister of education who made this revelation at a conference, also stated that Nigeria requires sustained expenditure of almost $14.2 billion per year over the next decade, or about 12 percent of its GDP, to close this gap.
“The country also needs to spend about $10.5 billion to fix federal infrastructure alone, especially power, as against its current expenditure of about $5.9 billion per year on federal infrastructure which is equivalent to about 5 percent of its GDP”, she said.
Omobayo explained that urbanisation of poverty resulted from urban infrastructural deficit particularly electricity, transportation, telecommunication as well as water and sanitation facilities.
“Electricity supply in particular has sent many urban dwellers out of jobs, particularly artisans such as electricians, iron benders, hair dressers, fashion designers (tailors), among others, who largely depend on electricity and cannot afford the cost of generating sets”, he said.
Continuing, he said, “this has resulted in increased unemployment, underemployment and joblessness; thus, the widespread poverty in the urban areas is casting a shadow of doubt over the promise of good life cities hold for human race when they first emerged”.
According to him, cities which appeared with high hope for human race as centres of innovation, opportunities and decent standards of living are today centres of deprivation, desolation and degrading social segregation and exclusion.
This lends credence to the UN-Habitat’s 2010 report which identified African cities as liabilities because of the growth of what it described as urban poor or urban slums.
According to the report, Africa is urbanising at a very fast rate, estimating that about 60 percent of the continent’s population will live in the cities by 2025.
Omobayo noted that Nigeria’s urban areas were turning to centres of despair, where basic needs of majority of urban dwellers in areas of shelter, electricity, water supply, health facilities are acutely lacking.