Characteristics, Challenges and Prospects of Informal Land Use Activities in Barkin Ladi Town, Nigeria

John Y. Dung-Gwom, Musa Bitrus Dung


This paper examines the urban planning implications of informal sector activities in Barkin-Ladi Town, a post mining settlement in Plateau State, Nigeria. The objective of the paper is to examine the planning challenges posed by the informal sector activities and to make appropriate recommendations towards integrating and regulating such activities within the settlement. A total of 187 questionnaires were administered on three categories of informal sector activities in the area, while interviews were conducted with the staff of the Area Office of the Ministry of Lands, Survey and Town Planning and of the Works Department of the Barkin Ladi local government council, which is the planning authority. The research revealed that trading was the dominant informal activity being undertaken by 63% of the respondents, followed by cottage industries (14%) and tertiary services (23%). Planning challenges pose by informal activities included: change of use without planning approvals, encroachment on access roads, conflicting land uses, non-compliance with the relevant planning law on zoning. There were no spatial developmental plans or guidelines by the relevant planning authority to regulate the activities of informal sector activities. Environmental management challenges were lack of access to basic infrastructure, degradation of the urban environment, and insecurity of life and property. It is recommended that there is the need for planners to understand the valuable contributions of the informal activities to the local economy by integrating them in the spatial development frameworks through appropriate zoning, location, space management and regulatory policies. Basic infrastructure and services should be provided to enhance their productivity, while government and other stakeholders should improve access to loans, micro-finance, material resources and capacity building of informal participants.

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