- Ervin Y. GALANTAY, ‘the Planning of Owerri – a New Capital for Imo State, Nigeria’, to be found in the binder on Africa.
type of New Town:
> scale of autonomy
The Imo state in south eastern Nigeria (12.000 square kilometers, and a population of five million) has one of the highest densities of rural population. The population primarily lived in thickly clustered networks of villages. The development of settlements in the state was determined by the railway system build by the colonial regime. With the decision to make Owerri the capital of the state some 8000 government employees were transferred there till. The transfer of a group of this size and of higher education changed the town. A new housing program was needed to counter the housing emergency and the new State Government quickly started building housing for its administration. The Swiss company C Fingerhuth and Partners that were given the assignment pointed out that the problem could not be solved without a comprehensive master plan of the city. Thus transforming the disorganized and disorderly marked agglomeration posed the same management and planning problems as developing an entire new town. Because of the urgency of the situation, the master plan more or less had to be drawn while at the same time implemented to counter the acute housing problem. There existed no proper maps of the town at the time and in general it was very hard to gather reliable information on the current state of the town, its population structure and habits, and the spatial organization of the town. No reliable account of Owerris current population was available and its size in the 50's was used to calculate its probable size in 1976. As the city was entirely placed on the east side of the river Nwaori a large area on the western side was reserved from the government. The model for merging these two areas together into one city was a twin city model. Doxiadis argued for the advantages of such a system with reference to the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. However it appeared undesirable to have two separate urban systems - one old and one modern - developing, so a lot of thought was given as to avoid such a division. Thus both low income housing and new commercial axes were developed on both sides of the river. An octagonal super-structure of roads were imposed thus creating residential cells which were again subdivided into different lots to accommodate different in come groups. For the housing modules a standard model was developed. It was based on the average family size - six persons - and a minimum of 10 sp meter of floor space pr person. A standard housing unit of 60 sq meters was thus developed.