The federal government is to resume the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) land swap initiative, started by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC), rising from a meeting in Abuja yesterday, approved the resuscitation of the land swap programme aimed at ensuring massive infrastructural development in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
FCT Minister, Alhaji Mohammed Bello, told reporters after the meeting that the land initiative, worth about N1trillion under the previous dispensation, was designed to remedy the infrastructure deficit in the federal capital by swapping land with private investors who would in turn provide development.
The minister stated that FEC approved the resumption following a memo he presented to the council, adding that some amendments were made to the original initiative by establishing a legal framework to protect all parties.
He said: “Today, at the Federal Executive Council meeting, I presented a memo and an update on the FCT Land Infrastructure Swap Initiative at the council. And after a lot of deliberations, the Federal Executive Council approved the FCT Land Infrastructure Swap Initiative, which is popularly known as land swap, which was started some time ago by the previous FCT administration.
“After a review of what has transpired over the years, and changes made, the Federal Executive Council approved that we now continue with the land swap initiative on the basis of amendments to the procedures as well as new safeguards introduced so that investors, the FCT, that is the government, as well as off-takers will be protected. So, this is what we discussed today.”
On the key provisions of the initiative, the minister described the deal as an initiative between the FCT administration and the private sector that would ensure provision of infrastructure to develop the districts in the territory.
According to him, the private investors will provide the entire infrastructure within a particular district and then they will be compensated with land.
He said: “They will take a certain percentage of the land developable within that district, while the FCT administration will take a certain per cent.
“The whole essence is to encourage the development of the city according to the master plan in designated districts and then, of course, to also to resolve the issue of compensation and payments and relocation of people as the city grows, and then, of course, to reduce the overall housing deficit within the FCT. So, basically, this is the background.
“And what we have approved today is to establish a very solid legal system, whereby all the parties in this transaction are protected. And who are the parties, the first party is the investor, the second party is the FCT administration, while the third parties are the off-takers. And in so doing, investors will create a special purpose vehicle, whereby the investors will come in and then the quantum of the investment will be determined on the basis of which the financial institutions will provide financial guarantees to the administration through performance bonds.
“And this performance bond will cover the totality of the project and will be reduced as the project is being delivered. And then the land that is going to be used as swapping for the investment that is going to be held in custody by designated financial institution, which will serve as the custodian. Of course, as milestones are being achieved, land will be released to the investors which, obviously, they will sell and use to pay for their investment. So, this is the whole concept.”
He added that the idea of reviewing the agreement was to bring in “conditionalities that protect everybody and all these are done based on the experience of the administration over the last few years regarding previous investments done particularly using the mass housing model, which is really in terms of size is just a fraction of what we are talking about.
“So, this is the whole essence, this is what we intend to start rolling out now based on the conditions approved to the effect.”
Also briefing newsmen, Works and Housing Minister, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, said he presented a note to the council on the need to be conscious of the increased number of road traffic crashes on federal highways, saying that the majority of accidents are not caused by bad roads.
He stated that three major federal highways, namely Lagos-Ibadan highway, the Abuja-Kano highway, and Abuja-Keffi-Lafia highway, have the highest cumulative number of road accidents.
According to him, in January 2021, more people died of car accidents than COVID-19 and malaria combined.
He said: “So, we saw that this was something that needed to be focused on. We saw that for the month of January, the number of people who died from road crashes exceeded the combined numbers of people who died from malaria and COVID together for the same month.
“While COVID and malaria were receiving national concerted attention, perhaps it was necessary to bring this to the attention of the government as part of our strategy for protecting life and property.
“So, we identified the need for various actions to be taken from municipal, local government level to state and national level.”
According to Fashola, the process is on to reduce road accidents on federal highways.
He added: “We are looking at also putting speed metres on the highway. There is a combination of factors and we are also trying to educate drivers. We saw that the biggest factor for these accidents from over-speeding, loss of control, wrongful overtaking, brake failure, tyre blowing out points to the role of the driver.
“Consistently over the years and this data is available. The impact of bad roads and accidents was less than 2%. As big as that may be, it is less than 2%. These factors I have mentioned; overspeeding, loss of control, wrongful overtaking cumulate to over 70%. If we reduce this, we bring the numbers down.
“So, I think our focus as a government is that we’ve agreed that the driver has a role to play, starting from education and certification for more level. So, this is going to be a multidisciplinary activity from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of lnformation, FRSC, state and local governments in terms of how they test and certify drivers.
“We are hopeful that FRSC will start something like a random check on the highway for people to produce the driver’s licence. And that awareness, hopefully, will reduce the number of uncertified drivers on the road – because they are also a very big source of the problem. So, these essentially are the highlights.”