By Dr Kabiru Usman Hassan
The exploding rate of growth of cities poses great challenges to urban planners. Settlements in Nigeria are changing rapidly without appropriate planning; and they will become increasingly chaotic, ineffective, and unsustainable. This is because professional planners struggle to effectively deliver their expected roles in cities. Hence, Planning and management of fast growing communities in different parts of Gombe state, specifically the metropolis has not been free from dynamic and increasing challenges.
As someone who has been in the profession of town planning for several years now, I have witnessed how changed emerges and it is commonly accepted or resisted. What I have also witnessed in the last few years is how a profession is kept in a deadlock, based on misconception attached to “changed” creating a phony “Left – Right” dichotomy. It is against this background of oversimplification that this article endeavors to explore the various scope of town planning and the role of a town planner from my discernment.
Town planning is concerned with the general pattern of landuse, the character and location of public buildings and structures, the design of streets, the location and development of transits and transportation system and all other physical facilities which are necessary or desirable to promote the economic betterment, comfort, convenience and general welfare (Webster, 1961).
A town planner is a professional who practice in the field of town planning and is responsible for the design and development of urban areas, such as town and cities. Town planners also ensure that there is balance between demands on the land being developed and the needs of the community. Planners formulate plans for development and management of urban and suburban areas, typically analyzing land use
Town planning as a modern profession is a relatively small but indeed a growing field. Urban planners plan for the future of urban areas while they also plan their rural counterparts. Planners are involved in making both short and long-term decisions about the organisation and development of commercial sites, villages, towns, cities and the countryside, advising the community, developers, local and national government to help them make decisions about development.
The activities of a town planner might include:
1. Allocation of residence and designing layouts
2. Transportation facilities (Roads, Rail, Airports, and Seaport)
3. Community development
4. Sanitation and waste management
5. Development control activities, guidelines and principles
6. Determination of economic flow
7. Energy provision
8. Visiting sites to assess the effects of proposals on the environment and local community.
9. Assessing planning applications and monitoring developments
10. Drafting design statements.
11. Advising on environmental impacts assessments. (EIA)
12. Advising on neighbourhood planning issues.
13. Writing reports and other material, explaining regulations or making recommendations
14. Undertaken special research
15. Consulting with key stakeholders and other interested parties. Etc.
A town planner in Nigeria is one that has acquired both academic and professional knowledge as well as certification respectively from accredited institutions and town planner’s registration council (TOPREC) hence bounded by a common seal and its obligation. Planners requires a shift from traditional focus of pure physical planning through physical plans and move towards integrated sustainable city planning that involves participation form a broad representation of stakeholders at all levels. More importantly planners must work within the framework of political demands without compromising professional ethics and standard.
I look forward to seeing vibrant and ambitious town planners in Gombe state who are keen in improving the long-term social and ecological health of our towns and cities involving compact, efficient land use; efficient resource use, less pollution and waste in the state; and the restoration of natural systems; good housing and living environments; a healthy social ecology; sustainable economics; community participation and involvements; and preservation of our local culture in our dear state.
Dr. Kabiru Usman Hassan
Director General, Gombe State Geographic Information System (GOGIS).