The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Bala Mohammed, at the weekend stunned his audience when he disclosed that the Abuja Master Plan was not envisaged to accommodate the needs of the common man.
Mohammed spoke at the formal signing of the agreement for an Addendum of Variation of Scope Contract with the Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) to facilitate the completion of the multi-billion naira Abuja Light Rail Project, which commenced in 2006 but had been comatose since then due to lack of funds.
His words: “With all regrets, Abuja initially did not capture the needs and aspiration of the common people and the middle level manpower that we have in terms of affordable housing.”
According to the minister, Abuja, the nation’s capital was designed to accommodate only a million people, but that the territory now has a population of about four to five million people living in the area thereby putting pressure on available infrastructural facilities.
“Abuja has more than four to five million people living in a place where it is supposed to be inhabited with only about a million people at the moment,” he said.
The FCT minister, however, disclosed that the government was poised to provide infrastructural facilities at the satellite towns of the territory to give comfort to the middle class workforce that lives outside the city centre, and whose earnings may not afford them the luxury of private and chauffeur-driven vehicles.
“At the end of the day we are going to reduce the pressure on our corridors by using the mass transit scheme to be provided by the Abuja Rail Project and the employment opportunity it will provide for the population.
“We are going to provide employment opportunities for over one million people. And you can see that when people come to Abuja they try to stay anyhow. I am sorry with all apology and regrets that Abuja initially did not capture the needs and aspiration of the common people and the middle level manpower that we have in terms of affordable housing,” he said.
But Mohammed assured that President Goodluck Jonathan had given the FCT administration the marching order to look inward and facilitate the provision of housing for the people in that category in order to address the numerous social impediments normally presented by them.