Oxford Economics Professor Recommends City Decentralization

Professor Collier speaking on city buildinProfessor Collier speaking on city buildin_web.jpg

A professor of Economics and Public Policy at Oxford University in Great Britain has recommended to African Governments to extend city building in other parts of their respective countries rather than concentrating in one city mostly considered the capital of a country.

Professor Sir Paul Collier in an interview with the Daily Observer recently in Kigali following a panel discussion on African future cities, said concentrating on a single city where everyone flood to seek good life has many disadvantages on the livelihood of the people.

According to the professor, filthiness, disease, limited access to accommodation, slum communities, amongst others are some of the poor living condition that result when there is only one city in a country.

He said most countries are influenced by donor organizations and non-governmental organizations not to build more cities but to allow people live in slums because these organizations want dwellers to feel the constraint and move to remote areas.

Making specific reference to Monrovia, whch he once visited, Professor Collier admitted, “Some donor and non-governmental organizations use their influence on governments not to extend city building because they want the people to go back to the hinterland in remote areas to live. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf being a sensitive leader told them she would not accept it, but rather they should help Monrovia be a better place that everyone can enjoy living there.”

The Oxford University Professor noted that driving people out of a city by means of creating poor living condition was not a solution, but spreading cities that basic social services will be provided with affordable housing facilities.

He stressed that to avoid people living in slums where criminal activities couple with filthiness and disease are carried out, African governments should set strict policies that govern cities and erect housing units of affordable costs so people can live there.

He noted that building clustered skyscrapers to accommodate many people should not be a style of building a city but houses should spread to have spaces that people can move and children can play.

“City style in the 19th Century is different from city of today.  It must not be congested with tall buildings that people will not have the space to walk or for children to play.  Cities should have playground for children and wider spaces that people can meet and discuss issues affecting their communities,” he said.

Most African cities have challenges arising from limited accommodations and poor living conditions in slum communities.

Monrovia as a case in point has many slum communities including West Point, Clara Town, 20th and 24th Streets in Sinkor and New Kru Town.

It is also observed that most communities in Monrovia do not have safe drinking water and electricity, and many homes lack toilet facility.

This results into defecating in black plastic bags and throwing over the roof of another house thus exposing community members to health hazard.

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