Gwarimpa is the largest Estate, not only in Nigeria but in Africa as a whole, with many other mini estates within its beautiful surroundings. It is a cadastral zone among others in the city of Abuja. Gwarimpa is constructed in such a way that you would want to own a building, because of the peaceful, quiet and serene nature of its environment. But in recent times, the reverse seems to be the case because this peaceful area has now been polluted by the numerous commercial businesses that have come to stay, we fear.
Passing through on a Wednesday evening, Mr. Ekeh had come out from his car and was shouting at another car owner who had recklessly driven his own car from one of the businesses at the 3rd avenue T junction which he had almost hit. People had in fact started crossing lanes, coming out from a commercial building or just in a hurry to get home to loved ones or to catch up for other activities. He is just one of the few I had witnessed on that road and some people who are always around the place say that this occurs often, especially at evenings and early hours of the morning.
The agony residents of this renowned estate cannot be over emphasised, as they are disturbed by blaring sounds from either night clubs or face the constant difficulty in leaving their houses easily due to the many people who come to patronise these commercial businesses.
The case is even more pathetic for those on 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th Avenues respectively, because they are major roads in the estate and can easily be accessed by passers-by. The residents on this Avenues are constantly in fear of what next to expect on their streets that may eventually make them move out of their homes one day.
A seemingly disturbed and frustrated resident had, late last week, filed a petition about one of the commercial businesses on 3rd avenue, saying that it was really irrational and irresponsible for someone to own a business on a residential street and not have plans on how to control sounds coming from its premises or even have enough space to accommodate its customers who cause unnecessary commotion on the street.
This issue is not just common with Gwarimpa alone but with other cities within the nation’s capital city and in other nations too. An example is India where people use the front of their houses to build shops all in a bid to survive.
According to historical facts, Gwarimpa was built by General Sani Abacha’s administration. It was formerly called ‘Da’Kamba’ by the Gbagyi people. A 15 minutes’ drive to the central business district and about 20km from the Abuja Airport, Gwarimpa is mainly a residential area though some businesses, especially service oriented businesses like eateries and banks are springing up very rapidly, majorly on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Avenue within the Gwarimpa Estate. There are also some smaller estates in Gwarimpa such as War College, Federal ministry of Works and Housing Estate, Foreign Affairs Estate, Citec Villa, FHA Estate and Abuja Model City etc.
Furthermore, this estate is assumed to be an affordable place for average citizens of the country to live in. Sometime in 2003, the Federal Government had helped civil servants to acquire these houses at a cheap rate. That is how today we have civil servants living comfortably in houses they can call their own. One funny thing is that some people call the estate ‘BIG MAN’ estate once you mention that you reside there. Well it is not false at all, as prominent men and women seem to find a beautiful and humble abode in this large but unique estate.
This beautiful estate consists of duplexes, twin duplexes, bungalows, and high risings that give it its very distinguishing, unique recognition all around Africa and the world at large.
In an interview session with one of the residents of Gwarimpa Estate, a senior retired civil servant Malam Ali (not real name), who had out rightly rebuked the occupation of commercial businesses dwelling very close to residents who no longer have their peace and tranquility in their homes, he was very eager to ask and find out why there hasn’t been anything done to this effect. Because he had on several occasions reported to the right authorities, stating that all he has gotten is silent treatment and no means to an end of the situation. “The construction of legal shops and markets in a number of illegal residential areas in the zone is creating trouble for the residents” saying that this has prompted him on several occasions to sell his house just so he could move out of the vicinity into somewhere more reasonable and peaceful.
Mr Obinna, who lives on 1st Avenue had an entirely different form of disturbance. In his own case, he refused to sell his house, saying that nobody will make him move, but has been tempted to call the police so they could seal the businesses up so that he can somewhat have his peace back.
Fortunately for some residents of this estate, life is not at all bad, as some houses are being used for commercial businesses. The stress of going all the way to the central business district or other places in town to get somethings has been quite managed. For your groceries, it’s just a stone throw; for your leisure, it is just at your beck and call. Yes it might not be convenient, but as the saying goes ‘you never know what you have until you lose it’, same applies, they might just be made to let go of residential houses and move to town or to other urban areas and then, and only then, will they be of vital use. Commercialisation of these houses has positive and negative sides at the end of the day.
There is indeed the need for commercial businesses to be put in the right places that will not affect their businesses and will also not affect the owners of residential house owners in the same estate.