During the recent Smart Cities summit held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja, Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State outlined the enormous investment opportunities that abound in the state as it commences the development of its land potentials along the Abuja corridor.
It would be recalled that Al-Makura, in his opening remarks at the summit, said since his administration came on board in 2011, it had the dream of setting the foundation for Nasarawa of the future.
This dream was anchored on the potentials and opportunities the state has given its proximity to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, which also informed the formation of the Nasarawa State Development Platform to translated this dream into reality over a sustained period of time.
This development platform is a holistic approach to ensuring that the state has a versatile and futuristic development plan that would encompass land administration and other development initiatives to be executed by the Nasarawa Geographic Information Service (NAGIS).
Buoyed by the desire to harness the vast land resource and other opportunities that abound in the state along the Karu-Abuja corridor, Al-Makura said his government has earmarked 13,000 hectares of land in Gurku/Kabusu axis bordering Mpape and Maitama, few meters away from the Aso Rock villa in Abuja, for the construction of a mega cityof rival Abuja metropolis.
He said government came up with the idea in order to ease the stress for limited housing and other infrastructure of the state and the FCT and avoid the replication of another chaotic development as found in Maraba, Ado and other towns bordering the FCT.
“As it is, Abuja metropolis is chocked to the brim and to get our projections for the future right so that we do not get caught unawares again, we have decided to come out with a holistic detailed master plan for the development of Guruku/Kabusu area.”
As the closet undeveloped area to the FCT, that is the next destination for developers and to avoid further haphazard development, everything must be done within the frame of the master plan in line with existing land laws, development laws and detailed district master plan.
The preliminary plan and development projections designed by Siraj Consulting Engineers, ltd, showed that the developed part of Abuja in phases 1 and 2 are in smaller size to the Gurku/Kabusu land area which stands at 132 square meters, bigger than the French capital, Paris, which is 105 square meters.
The picturesque terrain with a perfect blend of hilly and low lying areasis divided into K and P project areas for Kabusu, which is on the elevated part of the land area and Kupe, which is on the low land.
The Kabusu project area consists of 8 districts while the Kupe project area is divided into 21 districts giving a total of 29 project districts.
The governor said the mega smart city project comprises 740 plots of various uses while the master plan has already been developed for 29 districts, code name K1 to K29, nothing further that Detailed District Plan for K1 District is ongoing.
Al-Makura, however, called on investors to take advantage of the Gurku/Kabusu smart city investment opportunities, saying that diverse areas of expertise can be explored by investors which include infrastructure, health facilities, education and training facilities, commercial investments and markets.
Others include real estate developers, waste management to ensure clean and hygienic society and broadband connectivity as is obtained in modern smart cities in the world. Although Gov. Al-Makura overriding provision has been made for power generation and distribution by the Federal Government improves.
In keeping with smart city development codes, light industrial area will be separated completely from residential areas, recreational and amusement parks. He said as incentives on investment, the Nasarawa Geographic Information Service (NAGIS) will offer investors the needed professional of land titles, even as he averted that the proximity of the smart mega city project to the FCT is itself an incentive. Tax holiday will also be given to intending investors.
For a realistic start, the Managing Director of Siraj Engineering consultants, Dr. Kamal Azar, who threw more lights on the investment opportunities, said a comprehensive preliminary master plan would be developed for only one of the Kabusu districts withtotal land mass of 520 hectares.
Azar identified access road, water and power supply as the major hindrances to development plan, nothing that while access roads and water can be provided for, the problem of power supply is a national phenomenon but adequate provision locations of power sub and feeder stations would be provided for.
Kabusu, which is 12 kilometers from the Keffi-Abuja Expressway, can be reached from Karu or from the FCT through Mpape but that is not so appealing due to heavy traffic being experienced on the axis on a daily basis although it is the shorter route into Abuja. Karu on the other hand is longer but less congested.
In the area of water supply to care for the need of the proposed mega city, engineering survey has been concluded on a proposed earth dam or lake in a valley between the two ridges of hills in Kabusu project area although geological survey is yet to be conducted.
Mr. Azar explained that the dam, when completed, is capable of holding 88 cubic meters of water which is sufficient to provide water to over 2 million people. The dam which will need 3.4 million cubic meters of earth to fill in order to have good retention capacity will have a surface area of 3.2 kilometers and is situated wholly inside Nasarawa state.
The question, however, still remains as to how to make people come into this area to develop it. Attractors would have to be created to woo in investors and developers.
Although Governor Al-Makura has plans for mass housing projects for both Nasarawa and Abuja residents, that may not be enough to attract people without guarantee on other corresponding social services like schools, markets, hospitals and recreational facilities.
In his submission, the Minister of State for Environment, Mallam Ibrahim Usman Jibrin, maintained that although the project is enormous, it is achievable, saying one of the critical challenges the work would face has to do with the current economic recession the country is facing.
The state commissioner for Lands and Town Planning, Mr Sonny Agassi, who corroborated his view added that although government was not oblivious of the enormity of the size and cost of the project, Governor Al-Makura has the will and resolve to give the project a good start.
By: Francis Nansak