Technocrat Media, Abuja
The minister of the federal capital territory (FCT), Muhammad Bello, says park operators are going beyond the signed concession arrangement of 2000.
Mr Bello said this is why his administration is enforcing the policy on parks operation in the FCT.
He said that his administration decided to revert to the policy in order to ensure the attainment of the 40 per cent threshold of green areas in the city.
The minister gave the insight on Thursday in Abuja while playing host to the management of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
He said: ”The whole concept of the park policy is to make sure that these green areas within Abuja as a city and to some extent parts of the territory are left green to be able to meet the 40 per cent threshold of green areas.
”Abuja was way ahead of many cities in terms of climate consideration and the whole idea was that you develop these green areas to make them truly green with vegetation, with green land, flowers, and trees.
”That was achieved to a large extent some years back but with a population growth of the city and demand for housing and land, if we are not conscious about it then we may derail ourselves and just make it a concrete city”.
According to him, the abuse of green areas had affected the ecosystem, the government in the mid-2000 realised that it was simply impossible to maintain all the green areas which brought about the concessions of green areas to private operators to develop as parks.
”A park in the real sense of a park-like we see in other countries is neat, clean with sidewalks, with areas for the playground for children, playground for family members, and areas of relaxation.
”And everywhere in the world, these parks have an opening time and closing time and normally they are done in the day time may be from 8 a.m. or in some cases 7 a.m. and then by night they close,” he said.
The minister stated that almost 95 per cent of those who took parks under concession converted them into structures thereby abusing them and the environment.
”Instead of temporary structures using environmentally friendly materials, they started constructing solid concrete structures.
”And instead of making green areas they started creating concrete basement and that totally jettisoned the idea and as time went by, these concrete and permanent structures started to be converted into areas where a lot of things were done wrongly.
”Parks that were meant to be areas where there will be aesthetics like you see in New York, London and so many other cities in the world gradually were converted into places where criminals stayed there.
”Because it is an open public space they will stay there at night until midnight and after midnight you know what they do in the city.
”They create havoc in many of the parks and because the owners of the park have not been able over time to invest to maintain it green it became easier for them to stay,” the minister said.
The minister stated that Abuja is a city where most people are workers, and creating parks in neighborhoods is to enable families within each neighborhood to have a place to relax.
”But because it became something else, you go there and your handbag is snatched if you are a lady and your phone is not protected because people are under the influence of drugs.
”Families cannot even venture into parks even in the afternoon because many people have made it their own abode.
”Some of them will go under valleys and erect shanties.
”All the laws were there when the whole idea of park policy was initiated in the mid-2000 but as time went by institutions saddled with the responsibility of enforcement and monitoring didn’t do their work and that is the crisis we are now facing in the city.
”Unfortunately as you can see social media is awash with all kinds of negative narrations but I thought I should clarify to NAN as manager of public thought.
”You can really understand what the issues are and provide information to our people to understand the message,” he said.
He revealed that the administration was getting positive feedback from residents, adding that they were appreciative of the enforcement of the policy.
”But you know as a country we don’t push for our rights.
”All the neighbors have been crying in silence, accusing government, and complaining in silence but nobody was willing to confront these people in the parks.
”And now that we are doing our work quietly they will commend us but nobody is coming out publicly to support us,” the minister said.
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