HomeNewsAbuja Tech Village: Squatters Face Eviction Threat

Abuja Tech Village: Squatters Face Eviction Threat

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The Nigerian government has ordered illegal occupants of a planned technology hub to leave or face demolition.

The Abuja Technology Village (ATV) is a special economic zone that aims to become Africa’s preferred destination for innovation and research in four sectors: information and communication technology, biotechnology, minerals technology and energy technology.

The project, which was launched in 1999, has been hampered by encroachment, lack of funding and poor management. The site, located along the airport road, has been taken over by squatters who have built makeshift structures and farms.

Minister’s ultimatum

On Monday, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, visited the site and gave an ultimatum to the illegal settlers to vacate the area or face demolition.

He said the government had paid compensation to the original owners of the land in 2015, but failed to fence the area and secure it from intruders. Wike expressed disappointment at the state of the project, saying it had not attracted any investors or generated any revenue.

He also criticized the management of the ATV for not having an office on the site, but renting one outside the village.

“I am not impressed with what I am seeing. We don’t lack the political will, as we do have it. If you don’t take action, people will not believe that anything is possible. As I go back now, I will call the Development Control Department and give them ultimatum for these people to leave. They have been compensated since 2015, but if that was the case, I don’t know why we couldn’t fence the area up till now,” he said.

He said he had invited the Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology, Uche Nnaji, to take active possession of the place and see how to attract investors.

Vision of a tech city

Nnaji said the vision of the ATV was to create a tech city that would rival the London Technology City and the Silicon Valley in the USA.

He said the infrastructure and technology that the village would host in a few years would be humongous, and that there were many companies that wanted to start operations there.

He said the encroachment had to stop, and that the government would either compensate the illegal occupants or demolish their structures.

“This is because, it is bigger than what we have here,” he said.

The ATV is expected to provide a conducive environment for research, development and commercialization of innovative products and services, as well as create jobs and wealth for the country.

It is also a member of the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation, and has a master plan that comprises four distinct development clusters and a fifth predominantly green space.

Hope for the future

Despite the challenges facing the ATV, some stakeholders are optimistic that the project will eventually take off and achieve its objectives.

One of them is the African University of Science and Technology (AUST), which is located within the ATV and offers postgraduate programs in science and engineering.

The university’s president, Professor Wole Soboyejo, said the ATV had the potential to become a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa.

He said the university was collaborating with the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI) and other partners to develop solutions for the country’s problems, such as affordable housing, renewable energy and water treatment.

He also said the university was ready to work with the ATV management and the government to ensure the success of the project.

Source: Vanguard 

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