Chris Steven, Abuja
As President Muhammadu Buhari administration marks it’s second year in office, the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA says it remains unwavering in its commitment to actualise the vision of the President in developing the Federal Capital Territory to the expectations of the residents of the city.
FCT Minister Muhammad Musa Bello made this pledge while briefing the press on his score card during the last one and a half years of his tenure as FCT Minister.
Malam Bello said a lot has happened in the FCT between February of 2016 and now when he gave a rundown of his observations of what he found on ground in the Ministry and the city, and the promise he made to make the quality of life more meaningful for the residents of the FCT in line with the social change agenda of the President, adding that his agenda was to secure the city and the entire territory, make it environmentally friendly and responsive in terms of service delivery by all agencies of the FCTA.
But this is despite apparent breakdown of public utilities such as traffic and street lights, blocked drainages and increasing crime rate in the FCT in the last one and a half year.
The Minister had lamented when he took over that he was inheriting a tattered city whose many facilities were in comatose but with a promise to revive them.
But over a year on under his leadership, Abuja has not really witnessed the expected transformation except for the abandoned capital projects which the Minister had revived and concentrated on.
His words: “As I speak to you today, I want to reflect on the roadmap we gave ourselves. In trying to make the city environmental friendly, jointly with you, we worked on the Abuja environmental protection agency and I think with all sense of modesty, you will agree that the organization especially within the FCC, the Federal Capital City itself has done tremendously well.
Obviously, we have challenges; but as I told you, we cannot solve the challenges of FCT in one go. It has to be done systematically and step by step”.
“We have been able to achieve reasonable milestones; by all standards the city is now cleaner and greener. We are working with the Ministry of Finance to be part of those who will benefit from the green bonds, so that we deploy some buses to the Central Business Area, Suleja axis, Zuba axis; these buses are going to be environmentally friendly and not pollute the environment”.
On infrastructure, the Minister said successful milestones have been achieved particularly with the Abuja light rail system. “The tracks have all been laid and hundred per cent completed. I have had the honour of being on the tracks. We are now in the process of procuring the locomotives.
The communication and signalling facilities are almost done. The workshop equipment is also being procured. All the civil and engineering works have been completed”.
“By the grace of God, we are going to start the movement of passengers towards the end of this year and then by first quarter of next year, we would commence full commercial services. That I think is going to be a game changer of our city; 12 stations from Central Business District to the Abuja Airport route, starting with the metro station behind the Abuja Twin Towers and terminating at the Airport Station”.
But more importantly and more exciting according to the Minister is the approval recently granted by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to extend the rail line to Kubwa as well as to do another line that starts from the Central Area and Wuse, pointing out that if that is done, then the city of Abuja can truly be called a city that has urban rail system.
The Minister explained while his administration put so much emphasis on completing on-going infrastructure projects saying for every project, even if it is 95 per cent done, as long as that project is not completed, the project will not benefit the society.
“Those of you that have seen all these major projects, I think we should all feel proud. The Airport road is virtually completed with only some finishing touches going on the Bill Clinton Bridge leading to the Airport; so also the Kubwa road, the Circle road which envelop the city as well as the B6 and B12”.
“That is why you notice we have concentrated on existing major construction of rail and road projects within the city because by so doing, you ease traffic congestion in the city, you open up the areas, you allow free movement of people and by extension, you become more secure; you also increase on economic activities.
Bello remarked that while efforts were continuing to complete on-going projects within the city centre, the FCT Administration did not leave out the Satellite Towns.
He said: “Recently we got approval for the upgrading of the road network in Karu Satellite Town and such intervention will continue for some of the on-going projects that are also within the satellite towns.
On improved water supply to the city of Abuja, the Minister said the Federal Executive Council, FEC has approved 470 million dollars for the execution of the Greater Abuja Water project, adding that the Karshi water works would soon start to boost water supply in the FCT.
“With respect to hospitals, we recently opened the Zuba Cottage Hospital, Karu Hospital also should be up and doing while we also added bed spaces in some of the hospitals and more importantly also, do a lot of interventions in the schools”.
He said that his administration had trained over 12,000 staff in the ongoing training exercise that was expected to focus on three areas including effective service delivery, discipline and prudent resource management, adding that senior staff that have remained on same job for many years were given the opportunity to experience other areas of the government.
He explained that his administration had not made land allocations since inception because of the mistakes of the past, whereby land allocated to A was also allocated to B and so on.
The Minister said the administration has been able to resolve about 500 pending land issues within the period.
“One of our greatest achievements during the last one is the sanity we brought in land adminstration. We made sure that land administration is done according to the law”.
Bello said as a result of this action the land racketeering group that used to operate in Area 11, near the Abuja Geographic Information Systems, AGIS head office has suddenly disappeared.
According to him, institutional framework for the FCTA had been strengthened, adding that not only to ensure effective service delivery, but to also maintain institutional memory.
Bello said that he deliberately allowed the bureaucracy to work so that the management staff will no more rely on the mentality of having to wait for directives on everything from a minister.
“We decided to strengthen the bureaucracy by allowing the civil servants to work.
“When ministers come with their political appointees and are gone, there is no institutional memory that is why we spent a lot of resources on training staff,’’ he added.
On traffic light and facility maintenance within the city, the Minister appealed to the residents to stop vandalism of important facilities because it was a major hindrance to ensuring bright city at nights as well as 24-hour functional traffic lights across the city.
On Apo-Karshi road, “I personally thought that by now, this road would have been completed but we are working on it seriously and by the grace of God, it will be done’’.
The Minister assured the residents that his administration will not demolish buildings anyhow, adding that he would rather prefer the global best practice of upgrading and integration where infrastructure would be put in place for the people.