From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Bayelsa State Government has given its Physical Planning and Development Board marching orders to enforce extant laws and policies to ensure proper development control in Yenagoa and other parts of the state.
Governor Douye Diri gave the order at a three -day summit organized by the Board, with the theme: “Physical Planning and Development in Bayelsa State: The Way Forward”, at the Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha Memorial Banquet Hall, Yenagoa.
The governor, who was represented by his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, urged the Board to carry out the enforcement objectively without sparing whoever including himself and any government official that violates the building laws and regulations of the state.
He observed that the haphazard development pattern in the state capital was as a result of impunity by land sellers and developers as well as lack of political will on the part of the government to enforce the laws.
Governor Diri, who cautioned community leaders and youths to desist from the attitude of selling lands indiscriminately to land developers, assured that his administration would give all necessary support to relevant agencies to implement its urban renewal policies.
“This government is giving the Physical Planning and Development Board the marching order that after this three day summit; they should rise to the occasion. That means there should be no sacred cow in the demolition of illegal buildings in the state capital.
“What we are suffering from as a government is the leniency and unwillingness of the government. Political will has been in short supply in terms of the enforcement of the physical planning laws. But I can assure you under this present administration the political will to enforce these laws will come to full force.
“Government has the major share of blame as far as implementation of the master plan and the current state of Bayelsa and Yenagoa in terms of development is concerned. So, we take full responsibility for the failure in the implementation of the master plan.
“But we are determined to change the narrative. As far as I am concerned, this summit will be an exercise of self entertainment and waste of energy, if we do not change the position of the government towards enforcement.”
Delivering a keynote address titled “The Role of Master-planning in Bayelsa State as a Tool for Sustainable Development, Mr Harcourt Adukeh, expressed concern why successive administrations have not been able to implement the Yenagoa Masterplan.
Mr Adukeh, who is a renowned architect, noted that the Masterplan which was published in Year 2000, aimed at achieving economic and demographic growth of Yenagoa as well as promoting a green and beautiful Bayelsa capital city.
According to him, the plan was also designed to increase the supply of affordable housing by at least 5000 new homes between 2003 and 2008 in addition to improving the quality of residential areas.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Executive Chairman of the State Physical Planning and Development Board, Chief Gideon Ekeowei, said the summit was put together for all relevant stakeholders and sectors of the society to proffer better and sustainable ideas on building and development control.