The Bayelsa State government on Tuesday admitted failure in the implementation of the master plan for the physical planning and urban development of Yenagoa, saying it had resulted in the current unplanned status of the state capital city.
The state governor, Douye Diri, stated this while declaring open a three-day summit themed ‘Physical Planning and Development in Bayelsa State: The Way Forward’, organised by the state physical planning and development board at the Late DSP Alamieyeseigha Memorial Banquet Hall, Government House, Yenagoa.
Diri, who was represented by his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, said that government pandered towards sentiments and abandoned enforcement of the physical planning laws and urban development regulations of the state while “political will was in short supply.”
According to him, the government did not also muster the political will to carry out proper execution of the physical planning document popularly referred to as ‘The Yenagoa Masterplan’, which was drawn up at the creation of Bayelsa State.
He said, “Government has the major share of blame as far as the implementation of the masterplan and the current state of Bayelsa State and especially Yenagoa in terms of development, is concerned. So, we are more responsible for failure of the implementation of the masterplan.
“Unfortunately, government has abandoned enforcement and decided to observe emotions and respect sentiments instead of observing the law and enforcing the law. So, we have a lot of Royal Crocodiles (elite class) around the city and around the town. When it is (to demolish) their property, government can not do anything. When it is the poor man’s property, government can do a lot. And that is the problem of society.”
He also blamed the communities and land developers, who sold and bought natural water channels as well as areas that were meant for road construction and other facilities, for the haphazard and clustered development patterns in the capital city which were causing environmental problems to residents.
The governor, therefore, called on the physical planning and development board to remove buildings erected on natural water channels and government’s right of way, stressing that the present administration was committed to addressing errors made in the past.
He equally cautioned that the summit should not be a jamboree and that its outcomes should rather mark a turning point for the proper urban development and transformation of Yenagoa.
Earlier, a foremost architect, Harcourt Adukeh, in a keynote address and lecture presentation titled, “Private Sector Collaboration as a Catalyst for Sustaining Physical Planning and Development in Bayelsa State”, urged the government to stick to the Yenagoa metropolitan masterplan.
He noted that urban development control had failed abysmally and that “the absence of an independent implementation committee to enforce the masterplan” was a huge challenge.