• Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Fast tracking infrastructure development through land swap initiative

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The need to bridge the infrastructure gap that has held down development in various sectors, especially housing, has given rise to initiatives and policies by government.

In Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has come up with the Land Swap Initiative aimed at fast-tracking infrastructure development in the ‘new’ city that is in dire need of housing and accommodation for its growing population.

For Bala Mohammed, the FCT minister, the Land Swap initiative could not have come at a better time than now when only a few of the 83 districts in the territory can be said to have been developed while many others are yearning for development.

The change in demographics and the dwindling resources and strain on existing infrastructure have made the minister approach infrastructure provision and development in the nation’s capital from a more radical perspective.

This approach gave birth to the land swap initiative which, simply put, means engaging the private sector to provide infrastructure in exchange for land.

The implementation thrust of the transformation in FCT is to open up new districts by constructing and completing access to those districts.

The private sector will provide site and services within the districts. The target is to provide, at least, 10 new districts by 2015.

FCTA is to grant agreed percentage to a developer for real property development under Special Contract envisaged by the Land Use Act. In exchange for the grant, the developer is to provide primary infrastructure in the agreed district without any financial, technical or demand risk on the part of the FCTA.

The primary infrastructure, which the developer is to provide, is detailed district design and the Bill of Engineering, agreed kilometres of roads of varying specified sizes within the districts, and agreed kilometres of storm water drains.

The developer is also to provide agreed kilometre of foul water drains, kilometres of street lightning lines, kilometres of electrical power distribution lines, kilometres of telecommunication ducts, and a number of mini-sewage treatment plants.

Notably, under Section 8 of the Land Use Act, the FCT minister also has the power to revoke such grant in the event of any breach of the Special Contract.

This initiative, apart from ameliorating the housing problems of the FCT residents, has a huge multiplier effect.

The planned injection of over N300 billion into the development of the districts within four years is a major catalyst for unprecedented transformation. With engineering infrastructure being provided in over 10 districts contemporaneously, this promises to be the biggest project of its nature in the annals of the country with the capacity for creating at least 2,000 direct construction jobs on an ongoing basis for the next four years.

It is only natural that many of these workers, skilled and unskilled, will come from the catchment districts, thereby empowering the people economically.

The influx of people into the FCT is already putting pressure on the facilities in the city and initiative such as the land swap could not have come at a better time than now to allow a wider participatory role by the private investors.

In the land swap policy, the investor takes charge of the 60 percent of the land while the government takes 40 percent. The investor would also take charge of the aborigines’ need including compensation payment and other needs as stipulated by the contractual agreement.

Before the town hall meeting held to sensitise people on the land swap initiative, the FCT minister had already performed a land breaking ceremony at the Dallas Carraway District, one of those who has bought into the initiative.

The minister disclosed that more investors had already indicated interest in the new policy, adding that investors had been responding and the capital territory with this initiative would respond to the yearnings of development.

 

HARRISON EDEH, Abuja