Home Feature Feature: Trade Ministry’s building poses risk for 15 years

Feature: Trade Ministry’s building poses risk for 15 years

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Presence of many uncompleted buildings in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has been of concern to both residents and the government. Apart from giving the city of Abuja ugly look, they contribute to security concerns. The FCT Administration (FCTA) is calling on owners of such buildings to complete them or risk losing their title.

One of the uncompleted buildings in focus today is permanent site of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment situated Off Sodeinde Street in the Central Business District of Abuja, it appears to be the only structure uncompleted in the strategic. No wonder it has been attracting comments of passers-by times.

Although one of the promises of President Muhammed Buhari when he assumed office in 2015 was to complete uncompleted projects, the headquarters of the trade ministry has remained what it has been many years ago.

The building, which was intended to attract foreign investors to the nation’s economy has not got the blessing of previous administrations.

Residents who spoke to Viewpoint Housing News in Abuja expressed concern over failure of government. They wonder whether the FCTA’s campaign against uncompleted buildings could be successful if even government’s structures are abandoned.

A staff of the Federal Ministry of Finance, which is opposite the uncompleted building wondered why the building was yet to be completed despite been a government project.

The staff who pleaded anonymity said, “Each time we are resuming work in the morning, staff in the staff bus talk about the building. It has been overrun by weeds.

“Most of us are afraid that the building could be a hideout for criminals and even reptiles. This can be dangerous for some of us who close late.”

He attributed leaving such multi-billion naira projects across the country to what he described as “sharp practices” by corrupt leaders. “If not, how best can one explain it? Why would a government agency like the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment which is supposed to attract foreign investors to diversify the nation’s economy be abandoned by a government that is said to be diversifying the economy away from the oil sector?”

Another resident who also preferred anonymity said when one drives round Abuja, one sees security guards who have turned themselves into landlords. According him, strangers part with money in order to take their bath and use the toilets in the uncompleted structures. This can go on for years.

He said, “This building is still standing with weeds growing right inside it. Apart from security risk, such building could serve as convenient abode for reptiles and other dangerous animals.

Also, a staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who simply gave his name as Adamu said those in the comfort of their offices are at risk of such buildings.

“You can see that the Ministry of Finance is not far from here. Look at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, just a few yards away. Can you imagine the scenario, whereby a snake just creeps in from this uncompleted building into one of these offices nearby?”

Our reporter who visited the uncompleted building saw mats on the floor, indicating that there are people living in.

A trade ministry staff who also spoke on anonymity lamented that staff are working in very unsuitable conditions. This he said has affected the turnout of foreign investors as it reduces investors’ confidence.

He said, “You will not believe it if I tell you that roofs are leaking. Due to lack of offices, most of our staff do not come to work regularly because there is no conducive working environment for them to effectively carry out their duties.

“This has affected our performances and this is not good for a ministry that is saddled with the responsibility of attracting investments into the country.”

When Viewpoint Housing News visited the site of the uncompleted building, it was discovered that weeds have grown taller than the foundation.

Experts have observed that many uncompleted and abandoned projects deface a city. According to them, such should not be in highbrow areas of the city. They lament that some of these buildings are government owned.

Our investigations revealed that some of these buildings are uncompleted chiefly due to change of government.

It would be recalled that the FCTA recently threatened to revoke titles and prosecute developers that occupy buildings abandoned for at least three years. Some Ministries, Departments and Agencies are yet to act to avoid FCTA’s action against them.

“All building projects abandoned for at least three years must not be occupied whatsoever by anybody,” the FCTA said in a publication.

“Failure to comply with the instruction and all other extant rules governing land development in the FCT by any developer will attract appropriate sanctions which shall include revocation of title and prosecution,” it said.

It said all abandoned buildings would be subjected to revalidation and integrity test before recommencement of development. “The building must be completed in line with the terms and conditions of the grant of Certificate of Occupancy and conveyance of building plans approval,” it added.

The directive came after an uncompleted building collapsed on Obafemi Awolowo Way, Jabi leaving two dead and several others injured in August, 2018.

The Federal Government had also said it was considering the relocation of some of its agencies that are occupying rented properties into some buildings seized from treasury looters.

The move is part of efforts aimed at reducing the high expenditure on rent and office buildings by agencies of government.

Despite all this, not much is seen to be done to clear Abuja of the menace of uncompleted and abandoned buildings.

Effort to get official comment from the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Dr Okechukwu  Enelamah  on the uncompleted building proved abortive. However, sources from the ministry said the project was started in 2004 during former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration but had to be stopped due to lack of funds.

According to the source, “I have checked. Not only is ours that’s uncompleted! It is a general problem of funding but please don’t quote me!”

 

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