In line with his record stands on the need for the development of Abuja Satellite townships until his appointment last year, the Coordinator of the Abuja Satellite Towns Development Department, Hon. Ishaku Tanko Yamawo has called on the inhabitants and traditional rulers in the FCT Satellite towns, to join hands with his administration in making Abuja suburbs a conducive environment worthy of living.
As an indigene of Abuja coupled with your appointment as the Coordinator, Satellite Town Development Department (STDD), you are in best position to tell the story behind development of Satellite Towns development in FCT?
As we all know that FCT is in two phase; we have the FCT that is in the Federal Capital center, and then the one at the Federal Capital city’s suburbs, the Satellite Towns. The FCT is being handled by FCDA in terms of development of social amenities, while the Satellite Towns is handled by the Satellite Towns Development Department, where we are right now.
Why was it established?
The Satellite towns at the time were set up by Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, with Headquarters established here in Karshi. The vision that El-Rufai had was to decongest the city center. If there is road, electricity, water; most people would want to reside in the satellite towns, but what hinders the developments of Satellite towns before now was the lack of access road, electricity, water among other social amenities. For example, the road to Karshi used to be a narrow lane until STDD headquarters was cited here, but now it is a dual carriage from Nyayan interchange down to Karshi, which was constructed by the STDD, including other infrastructures.
What makes Karshi special?
Not just about Karshi, but in the entire area council in the FCT. Though there are some infrastructures provided by the Area Council Chairmen, but most of the major road is being constructed by STDD. Today, we are happy that the STDD has decongested and open up most of the roads leading to Satellite towns. So, you can see that people are massively moving into the satellite towns right now.
Give us the highlights of STDD achievements in some of the Satellite Towns?
Apart from the Karshi axis, if you go to Kuje area council we have places we have opened up for access, including Gwagwalada area. The same goes with Abaji Area council, most of the road are tarred by STDD. Recently, we have awarded roads around Abaji, Rubochi, Gwagada which will be rehabilitated very soon. Contracts have been awarded and I think mobilization has been paid to the contractors to move into site. Kubwa township roads are also been rehabilitated like others, including a particular road called Arab road around Kubwa, all are being rehabilitated by STTD. We have another access road from Kubwa to Bwari, called Bwaji which leads to Bwari. The significant of that project is that, you don’t have to come through Dutse, Kushafa for access, and that also is being handled by STDD.
Which other projects?
In terms of electricity, if you go to Dobi, Ledi in Gwagwalada Area Council, the major electricity works that are ongoing in those areas are STDD works. Moreover, if you go to Kwali, from Dafa, Yaba, the electricity projects in the area are done by STDD. Coming back to Kuje, where you have Pegi junction up to the Abuja at 30th area, all the electricity projects in the areas are by STDD.
If you go to Abaji, there is an ongoing construction of a Dam, which is about 80 to 90% percent complete and very soon that will be handed out to Water Board for operation.
You came on board last year, what is your vision for the STDD on improving what you met?
My number one vision is to complete the ongoing projects. On assumption of office as Coordinator of FCT Satellite Towns, I took my time to go round the six area councils to inspect all the ongoing projects; I discovered ongoing laudable projects that require urgent completion. They are projects that will give services to the people living in the satellite towns.
Is that all?
The second is to make sure that we keep our environment clean. Most of this cleaning that are ongoing in area councils is being carried out by STDD. Whenever you see road cleaners on the street around the Satellite areas, they are being carried out by our contractors within the six area councils in order to keep the city clean. All we want to achieve is to ensure that Satellite towns compete with Abuja city center. Abuja is not about the city center, but inclusive of satellite areas. We want to make the Satellite towns neater, even than the city center and that is what we are working on at the moment.
With such developments, do you foresee the Abuja Satellite towns with capacity to accommodate the influx of the masses in the nearest future?
Of course, with the current input by the present administration in terms of funding, I think this is possible and no doubt about that. By the time we are able to ensure that basic social amenities are on ground, other thing follows. So, in the nearest future, we will not have problem accommodating exodus of people migrating to the Satellite towns in the FCT.
The non completion of Apo-Karshi road project is generating serious concerns due to negligence by successive governments in the FCT, when do you think the road project is bill for completion?
The reasons contractors have been out of site on the project have always been excuses about paucity of fund and irrational method of payments before this present administration of Mohammed Bello came on board. But the present administration has been able to settle the backlog of dues owed the contractors, and work is ongoing on Apo-Karshi road at the moment, and I think before the end of this year, that road will be ready for use.
What is the level of cooperations enjoyed by STDD from inhabitants of the satellite towns?
In fact, that has been the major challenges the Department is facing, and in our effort to forestall discipline among the people residing in various satellite communities, we have been able to engage both the Area Councils and the traditional rulers. We made them to understand our challenges, because we cannot do it alone as government, except we enjoy the collaboration of the traditional rulers who are much more on ground and closer to the people in the satellite suburbs, and by extension the area councils and other nongovernmental organizations. The idea is to sensitize and enlightened the people on how to imbibe healthy living life style, as well as learn to package their wastes items and refuse in a more ideal manners. Once wastes are well handled, evacuating them by our labourers would be easier and cost effective. Reasons are that it is very expensive to evacuate unkempt refuse for disposal when you have them litter everywhere. So, carrying the traditional rulers along and area councils have been source of help to us at STDD.
Could that be human factors effects?
All I am saying is that, people should help us to avoid dumping wastes in drainages; this causes a lot of havoc during evacuations and cost us double in terms of funding. This is so because you must demystify the waste before evacuation proper.
Apart from cost implications, available reports indicates that most deaths disasters recorded annually in FCT and its suburbs have been traced to bandwagon effects where people unconsciously turns water drainage to refuse site. So I am calling on the residence of Abuja Satellite towns to take their safety as priorities. Health is wealth they say, people should desist from activities capable of making their habitat un-conducive for a living. Cleanliness they say is next to godliness. Floods and erosions are caused by bad drainages, and we have to help ourselves by keeping our drainages safe to avoid disasters, especially as rainy season approaches. FCT have had records of deaths related casualties in parts of satellite towns, which were traced to human nonchalant dispositions towards their environment, we have had cases where vehicles and occupants were washed away by floods, and we pray that such will never occurred in FCT again, so long we keep to instructions on waste management, which is the campaign we are flagging at STDD. Worst floods disasters are as a result of stampeded drainages by refuse and illegal constructions.
What other challenges do you think hinders your operation apart from human factors you have mentioned?
Let me say before my appointment, I do know STDD is faced with various challenges in terms of funding, but since my appointment, I made bold to say that the present administration under the leadership of the incumbent Minister of FCT, Mohammed Bello has been trying and supportive. Our contractors are paid as at when due. If you visit our sites, you will discover that our contractors are fully at sites working. Some of these contractors have been out of site for years, but the present administration has been releasing fund for STDD to execute some of this projects, and we really appreciate him for this.
You mean the cleaning exercise we have seen in recent time are actually done by STDD, not Area Councils?
If you go to major areas, such as Karu cemetery area, Gwawalada fruit market, Karu, Kubwa, Zuba, Dede and so on, where we have hoards of refuse that have been there for five to six years, they were like heap and we have been able to evacuate them. It is the STDD that have been doing these, not the Area Councils. So in terms of cleaning and refuse clearing, we have really done well in that regards within the time frame we resume office.
- Sola Omosola Akingboye graduated from Lagos State University, Ojo and also an alumni of International Institute of Journalism, Abuja. The Abuja based Media Consult is a member of NUJ, FCT Chapel; Member, Nig Energy Correspondents and affiliate of other proffesional bodies such as Believe in Nigeria Initiative (BINI); Change Agent for Positive Transformation (CAPT); OSHA Association for Industrial Safety in Nigeria. He is currently an Associate Editor and Chairman Editorial Board Informavores.com.ng.