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‘Abuja Light Rail should be privatised’

The Abuja Light Rail was recently commissioned, how will it affect Abuja residents?

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It is a welcome development. Nigeria is a market of opportunities, in all sectors, be it transportation, health or agriculture. This is because of our population. We are the most populated country in Africa; we have a high GDP and God made us different in terms of resources. With all these we are still waiting for government to run our services.

What has government got to do with the business of railways? Government can only provide the infrastructure like rail tracks but the running of rail services should be by the private sector. Early enough government should find a way of privatising this service so that it becomes sustainable.

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After privatization, they should look at bringing in more private investors to invest in the intra city rail which has not been done. If you look at the number of people commuting in the FCT, there are lots of people who are willing to come and invest in Abuja. So the future is bright, my advice to government is to open up, allow the private sector to invest in the city.

Why is Abuja not developing like other modern cities?

You know FCT is a subset of the national economy and you have to look at the macro economic impact on the real estate sector. It is sad that government finds it convenient to allocate land in the central business district to individuals. Government should allow lands to develop in economic terms.

You don’t allocate commercial plots to individuals who sell such plots instantly. Do they really warrant the allocation? A real developer would show you evidence of seriousness. So access to land in the central area of Abuja is very expensive because all the plots are committed. The demand of the market is also not too robust, if you look at the central area there are lots of unoccupied commercial properties.  And most of the users are in residential homes outside the central area.

What is the way forward?

The FCT minister should recover all undeveloped lands in the FCT and refrigerate them. Plots should come out in bits to the market, and should be allocated to people that are willing and able to develop them, that is the solution. You don’t release your entire plots to individuals because the future is there.

Is there any negative effect on the urban growth of Abuja?

Well, population has advantages and disadvantages. Among the advantages is that purchasing power of the people increases; the more the merrier, but you need to plan. With the increase in population, an unmanaged population growth leads to crisis like farmers/herders, Boko Haram, kidnapping, people are becoming idle. So if we fail to plan we are creating problem for our future generations.

How do you see the future of estate surveyors in Abuja?

The future is very bright, for those of us that are practicing now, I want to believe we are just scooping the beginnings because the main aroma lies in the future. If you look at the FCT landscape, it is dotted more with residential properties so the commercial component of the FCT is yet to reach its potential. If you look at the business district, it is not fully developed so we are expecting development in the near future. Properties developed several years back are dilapidating so the future of property development is bright.

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