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Oromo Parliamentarians Council (OPC)

 

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THE NEW MASTER PLAN (MASTER CLAN KILLER) OF FINFINNE (ADDIS ABABA) Critique and Protest Against Utopian (Nowhere) Comprehensiveness and Physical (Tabula Rasa) Determinist Master Plan.

By Gamsiis (Ph.D.)

Introduction:

The aim of this short essay is to protest and critique the newly declared Master Plan of Finfinne (Addis Ababa), the central city of Oromia. Moreover, it is also aimed to advocate for and bolster the voice of the underrepresented Oromo communities living in around Fifinne who are affected by this master plan. The so called new master plan of the city of Addis Ababa (Finfinnee) is a top-down, utopian, physical determinist, a blue print production oriented plan, and filled with politically void terms, laden with hidden agenda that has a grand aim of disintegrating the territorial integrity of the state of Oromia and expand federal government and the minority settlers it has been sponsoring for the last 23 years at the heart of Oromo land, Finfinne.

Prior to discussing the details of the so called master plan this article will define and analyze three major planning and plan related issues. Here we will discuss the theoretical and practical considerations in defining a city planning, and the legal frameworks surrounding city planning practices.

City planning (Town planning) in general term is an activity that regulates the urban development to efficiently manage the urban land use in order to improve the lives of its community by creating safe, healthy, equitable, well situated, and attractive social and economic opportunities for the present residents without compromising the need and possible aspirations of future generations.

Therefore, Master plans (comprehensive plan, general plan) should be aimed to create more development opportunity, better living conditions, healthy and livable place. There are multiple outcomes that are expected from the genuine planning activity. Planning should focus on providing and creating better job opportunity for the community, build improved tax base for the city government, and facilitate the provision of better public services such as transportation, supply, utility services, schools, safety services (policing, fire protection, etc.), recreations, and park services. Secondly, planning is aimed to facilitate economic development outcomes that encourage existing economic institutions and attract new development opportunities. Thirdly, planning activity must create equitable benefits (conditions) for the business community, the public, and the local government (city government). Fourth, city planning activity should empower environment friendly development activities while regulating activities that can have negative environmental impacts and severe environmental hazards such as industrial pollutions, management of urban runoffs, and control other land use externalities.

Contrarily, planning can have negative impacts on property values, can affect peoples’ life negatively, may have hidden values or vague goals, and can have negative political impacts against citizen. Planning activity without legal and judiciary means of protecting civil right can serve as covert exercise of power over the private property, and natural amenities can have a devastating outcome. Authorities, business community, and interested stakeholders may use planning as a land grabbing tool or can impose unfair land use management practices.

Moreover, planning itself can be viewed as a political exercise that manifests itself as taking power (eminent domain) or policing power over public/community properties as well as private property. In its perfect sense, planning should be purely apolitical and it is a governmental duty exercised by city government. But planning can unequally benefit/harm citizens, and even displace and evict communities, destroy SHAREDcommon values, culture, identity, history and heritage of people, and can kill the sense of belongingness and ownership. Particularly, in places like Finfinne where the unique merger of history and power accorded aliens the privilege of carving a settlement for themselves among the indigenous people, planning to expand, modify the settlement (city) will have always adverse effect on the surrounding indigenous communities. In addition to the scramble for the physical land resources there exist invaluable cultural and historical heritage heritages that may be destroyed by planning practices. There are diverse multi layered socio-cultural orders, common shared values, systems, clans, sub clans, villages, traditional settlements, historical places, and related religious amenities of indigenous nature on which planning can have a devastating effect. It can kill all of these values if not practiced carefully and if legal measures and institutions are not in place to protect all of these including environmentally sensitive areas.

Additionally, planning is value laden practice and with multi-faceted interest where affected parties need to consulted, counseled and legally represented at all planning levels and their needs and rights given proper consideration. Planning graphics, maps, colors, and planning jargons can be very complex, can be hard to be understood by layperson, and are full of professional terms. In some cases planning can have hidden goals where the outcomes are not clear to everyone including the stakeholders they were meant to serve.

The Master Clan Killer

As the case study conducted about the current and newly proposed master plan shows

The analysis of the newly proposed master plan of Finfinnee (Addis Ababa) indicated that its content and quality has imposed issues (values) that are dictatorial and top-down planning activity. The so called master plan is aimed at physical development such as land acquisition for the expansion of the city without full social, cultural, and environmental planning concepts. The industrial zonation of the south east Finfinne was an example of bad planning practice that did not take in to account the impact it can have on the environment. Industrial wastes from this zone have affected thousands of individuals along Akaki (Aqaaqii) river BANKS and the effects have been felt as far south as Koka (Qooqaa). Therefore, this and earlier master plans were aimed to achieve physical design goals i.e., a plan to expand the perimeter of federal constituency at the expense of social, cultural, environmental, historical and economic injustices to the nearby indigenous communities. The so called master plan failed the affected communities, destroyed their values and can be called the CLAN KILLER. The following is a justification why it has to be called the MASTER CLAN KILLER.

The acclaimed master plan is socially blind and has never mentioned to have a social oriented goal. So, it is socially reckless physical design oriented towards achieving a narrow goal of undermining the state of Oromia and the Oromo people and expanding breathing ground for aliens settled in the city. It is blind towards the cultural and historical heritage of Oromo people that existed for thousands of years before the inception of Finfinnee. No evidence of any attempt was presented to protect the cultural and historical heritages of the local communities and the major Oromo clans of the area such as Abbichuu. Gullallee, Galaan, etc, are on the verge of extinction. It is a politically motivated move based on driving the surrounding Oromo community into deeper poverty offering only empty promise to others simply echoing what they think people may want to hear such as, international standard, accelerated development, modernizing the city, experts from prominent European master planners, etc. They have wrongly judged the Oromo thinking and aspirations when they try to trick the Oromos by naming few Oromo individuals like Kumaa Dammaksaa, Berhane Deressa, Driba Kuma, etc. These individuals have always been on the other side of the Oromo issue that the dictators were ingenuous to think that such names would soften the position of the Oromos to thwart the grand political question that they have been asking. No cover ups and use of Oromo names can answer this questions, only the rule of law implemented without political infringement can. The current Ethiopian constitution touted 20 years ago then is politically void in that many of its provisions including articles 40, 43, and 49 remained hollow promises. Particularly, Article 49 of the fake constitution gives only lip service concerning the special interest of Oromia on Addis Ababa. So far, the acclaimed special interest had not met any interest of the Oromo people and the State of Oromia except the contamination of rivers, unmanaged urban runoff, untreated grey water, and pollutions from different land uses of Finfinnee CONTINUE to wreak lives and destroy livelihoods of the surrounding Oromos. No considerations of inclusionary practice for Oromo people who use water from the contaminated rivers is made in the recent master plan; it rather plans to do worse, uproot the remaining communities and clear up the swaths of land for the alien settlers. The plan is not inclusive and has no room for managing conflicting interests. So, it is morally, ethically, and professionally wrong and void. Politically flawed; federally owned or territorial boundary of the city has no geographically limited space and no sustainable growth management practices are evinced within the master plan document. The territories of States are divisible and can be manipulated all the time for hidden and clear goals where the state of Oromia has no clear boundaries. The master plan has a clear expansionist goal that will divide the state of Oromia in to two separate regions while it gives access (connection) to the Amhara region and Gurage zone in the near feature. So, the acclaimed master plan is an open venue for the urban sprawl and the development it claims can create political instability for that country. Legally unconstitutional and has no legal means is provided to acquire 1.1 million hectares of land. It is aimed to transfer a political power, state property, and private property to the other private owner (the riches). This is illegal because government cannot take a property from one citizen and transfer it to other private citizen or cannot treat its citizens prejudicially and undermine the rights of indigenous population. The so called master plan has unbearable outcomes; it is aimed to disintegrate the SHARED values of Oromo people, kills the sense of belongingness, the clans, sub-clans, hamlets, and traditional norms. That master plan has ignored the right of the Oromo people and the state of Oromia to administer a large city and has the intent of building a single municipal government on the big chunk of land. The so called prominent European experts on the advisory payroll seemed to have no clue of multijurisdictional planning or ignored the underlying effects of planning that can destroy existing unique identity. If growth is desirable the undesirable effects of planning could be averted. For instance, cities can have contiguous shape or spotted (leapfrog) settlements while having different local governments that leave sensitive places open as it is in between the cities such as farm lands, environmentally sensitive places, historical places, and indigenous population. Why is the state of Oromia cannot administer satellite (suburban) cities? No reason except there is a hidden goal. That master plan is naive about the sociological formation of indigenous people and assumed as if no diversity exists. Its planning contents disrespected existing values that are given for diversity of culture, values, and different interests of the Oromian state position. No principles and normative theory is evidenced. No answer is provided for questions such as, who is going to be evicted? Why they are evicted? Where is their destination? And where is the end point of expansion of the city of Finfinnee? No equal opportunity and equitable conditions provided for the affected No evidence of public PARTICIPATION and the affected side has no say in it. All planning jargons, engineering graphics, color codes, and the full intent of the plan supposed to be explained to the unskilled public. Legal representation and professional advocacy supposed to be rendered for the affected community. The so called master plan has no principles or notion of inclusive community development plan. Its participants are outsiders and foreigners to the Oromo public and have nothing to do with Oromo to discuss their future destiny on behalf of our community. No authority is vested to any foreign nationals or foreign government or any non-Oromo group to decide on them or ratify any type of master plan on behalf the State of Oromia. This will create distrust between the representatives of Oromian state and the Oromian nationals at large while undermining the fake constitution of Ethiopia. The leaders of OPDO should rise and remove the curtain that has blinded them for too long. If they need any sort of credibility among the Oromo people, this is their chance. They have to stand firm and oppose this TPLF sponsored master plan of destroying Oromia and the Oromo people. The destruction of the Oromo people as we know is the end of OPDO as well. It is a perpetrated document for federal government to practice an overtly eminent domain and expand the federal government holdings. It is a document aimed to kill (weaken) the tax base of the state of Oromia and economically marginalize Oromian citizens while holding them in a perpetual poverty trap. It is a planning document without zoning ordinance and legal support. It is a top-down faceted planning activity and it is the same as the past failed master plans. It is a dictatorial planning system that has no public interest envisioned. It is an old style, rigid, and inflexible blueprint without common value. (to be CONTINUED)

Dr. Gamsiis , gamsis@gmail.com

 

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