Gov. Nasir El-Rufai Plans To Put Kaduna Back On Mega-City Top League. (See details)

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Globally, urban renew­al has been embarked upon by public offi­cials and private in­stitutions to improve cities’ structures and to enhance their economic, cultural and social qualities.

After the Great Depression of the 1930s, President Frank­lin D. Roosevelt, in trying to address the immediate econom­ic crisis of America, came up with the urban-centered New Deal Programme, which used public-works jobs to reduce unemployment, stimulate local economies, and subsidise state and local relief for the unem­ployable poor while bringing some changes in the structure and design of the cities.

In 19th Century England, rapid industrialisation of cit­ies brought about cramped and unsanitary living conditions for the urban poor. Therefore, the concept of urban renewal emerged as a method for social reform with the belief that bet­ter housing conditions in a city would increase the capacity to reform its residents morally and economically.

According to Business Dic­tionary, Urban Renewal is de­fined as ‘the process where an urban neighbourhood or area is improved and rehabilitated. The renewal process can in­clude demolishing old or run-down buildings, constructing new, up-to-date housing’.

In Nigeria, two places that come in mind, in terms of infrastructural development are Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, and Lagos State. In evidence in these cities, are expansive road networks, mod­ernised building structures, availability of relaxation spots, quality schools, advanced and accessible healthcare facilities and tourist attractions.

With all its reputation as the political centre of the north, Kaduna has lacked such in­frastructures. Yet, the state’s population is currently ap­proaching 10 million, with an estimated 4 million of them liv­ing in the Kaduna urban area.

It is projected that by 2050, the population will rise 12.96 mil­lion based on a 3.18 per cent growth rate, with about 7-8 mil­lion people living in the state’s urban settlements. This un­derscores the urgent need for a coordinated and sustainable Urban Renewal Project.

In his remarks at the launch of the project in June 2019, Gov­ernor Nasir El-Rufai said:-

“The Kaduna Urban Renewal Project responds to the accelerated ur­banisation of Kaduna City. Our state capital now straddles four local government areas: Kadu­na North, Kaduna South, Chi­kun and Igabi. This metropoli­tan area is projected to be home to more than half of the state’s population by 2050. Kaduna Re­newal seeks to make Kaduna a friendly home to its residents, a safe place to live in, equipped to support and promote the liveli­hoods of our citizens.”

The first phase of the Urban renewal is targeted at Kaduna metropolis, and focuses on road expansion/maintenance, housing and improved land use, mass transit, parks and recreational centres, market and neighborhood centres. Its execution adheres strictly to the 1967 Max Locke Master Plan of Kaduna. The Urban re­newal project will subsequent­ly be extended to Kafachan and Zaria, the two other major cit­ies in the state.

To start with, 7 new roads totalling 23.7km have been identified that will signifi­cantly have multiplier effect on housing, businesses, unity and social development. One of such new roads that stands out is, the Kabala Costain Aliyu Makama road in Barnawa.

The 1.4km road, which will pick up from Independence Way, will cut through Kabala Costain; cross over River Kaduna with a bridge of 230mm; and link up with Aliyu Makama road in Barnawa. The project will sig­nificantly reduce traffic across the historical Stadium round­about – Station Market Bridge.

Over the years, residents of Kaduna have had to bear with the constant time-consuming traffic on the historic River Ka­duna Bridge, especially during rush hours as people move to and fro their places of work. The completion of this new road and bridge will provide an alternative route for residents, reducing time travel and the traffic burden on the former bridge.

Another project that will greatly improve traffic in the State when completed is the road from Rabah by Arewa House to the Rigasa Train Station. This road will pick up from the Arewa House junc­tion and pass through Ungu­wan Kanawa, to burst out on Nnamdi Azikiwe Express Way, and continue through Eye Centre resettlement layout to connect with Rigasa Train Station. Linking Eastern to Western bypass, the road will feature a flyover and under­pass for maximum efficiency.

The flyover will pick up from the Rabah road across the Are­wa House junction and over the rail line running parallel to the road, to descending at Unguwan Kanawa. While the Underpass will pick up at the edge of the NDA old site golf course, go beneath Nnamdi Azikiwe Express Way linking to the other side of the road in Eye Centre.

Governor El-Rufa’i has shown commitment to ensur­ing that train commuters in Kaduna encounter as little hurdles as possible. Apart from the dualisation of Rigasa road from Nnamdi Azikiwe Express­way to the train station, which was completed early 2019, he also initiated and completed the construction of a link road from the train station, to the roundabout leading to the Air­port, reducing travel time and serving as an alternative route for commuters.

Similarly, a new road link­ing Millennium City to Yakowa Way has been highlighted for construction. This road, to be called Urban Shelter Road, will save commuters the trouble of having to return to Unguwan Rimi before going to and from the two roads. It will be a direct link for residents of Kamazo, Karji, Jan Ruwa and Unguwan Maigero to Millennium city.

Apart from the new roads being constructed, some exist­ing roads have been penciled for dualisation or other appro­priate forms of improvement due to the strategic role they play to residents. A couple of them, including Katuru Road that links Isa Kaita to Rabah and Alkali roads, from Ali Aki­lu way to Race Course, are al­most at completion stage and have been open to road users.

Worthy of mention also, is the commencement of the con­version of the Kawo flyover bridge to a double three-lane flyover bridge with three ro­taries (roundabouts) under­neath.

The bridge will also be extended in length to begin from Hayin Banki and end at 1 Div gate while the three ro­taries will serve commuters from Hayin-Banki, Kawo and Mando each. The creation of alternate roads has already be­gun, to ease traffic when work begins in earnest.

Beyond road construction, other components of the urban renewal programme have been going on simultaneously. The historical Gen Hassan Usman Katsina Park is undergoing total reconstruction to give it the befitting status it deserves. The park will house a movie theatre, a sports arcade and the zoological garden, which will be stocked with more animals. There will also be a Go-Kart track as well as three different water parks, one of which has been completed and open to the public.

The Centenary Park, named in honour of Kaduna marking 100 years, is far gone in con­struction and was the venue for the first ever Kaduna New year Countdown celebration, which has been termed by many as successful in enhancing unity in the State. Upon completion, the park will house a Go-Kart track, two football 5-aside pitches, an event centre and an amusement park for kids.

Construction of the Galaxy Mall, a standard shopping mall located on Waff Road, has been progressing steadi­ly and has already attracted investors like Shoprite and leading cinema operators like Silverbird. It is to be complet­ed in December 2020.

Through the Kaduna Markets Develop­ment Company, regular mar­kets are also being construct­ed and rehabilitated across the state. One of such is the Kasuwan Magani Market in Kajuru LGA. The over-crowd­ed Sabon-Gari market in Zaria is to be demolished and recon­structed into a modern mar­ket capable of answering the needs of the people and ensur­ing their safety.

Ultimately the benefits of these urban renewal projects to the people of Kaduna is immeasurable, and include job opportunities and overall economic growth, in terms of increase in the value of prop­erty and increased IGR.

In the first four years of El-Rufai’s administration, he focused on creating insti­tutions to support the urban renewal efforts. The Kaduna Investment Promotion Agen­cy KADIPA was established to attract and create an inves­tor -friendly environment in the State.

Also established is the Kaduna Internal Revenue Service, which since its es­tablishment has exponential­ly increased the state’s IGR from N800 million before the El-Rufai led administration to 44 billion in 2019.

The task of turning Kadu­na State from its static and outdated self to a progressive modernised place is no small feat, and Malam Nasir El-Ru­fa’i seems to have held the bull by the horn.

A few years from now, Ka­duna State will look nothing like its old self as the few proj­ects mentioned here are said to be just a tip of the iceberg. Full-blown, they will result in a Kaduna of which great coun­trymen like Sardauna will cer­tainly be proud of.

Nabilah wrote from Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, Ka­duna.

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