Functional address system key to boost growth

BY: Daily Graphic
Kwadwo Yeboah — acting CEO, LUSPA
Kwadwo Yeboah — acting CEO, LUSPA

The need for a functional address system in the country is increasingly becoming critical for the management of rapidly growing urban areas, where most cities lack a comprehensive and standardised addressing system.

The lack of an efficient and standardised address system in the country hinders urban planning and the delivery of urban services, as well as revenue generation by local government authorities.

Indeed, an efficient and standardised address system, which comprises street naming and property addressing, does not only facilitate the operation of modern technological devices but, more importantly, serves as an essential tool for effective urban development and management.

The process involves using a system of maps and signs that assign names to streets and numbers to buildings or parcels of land to ensure easy identification of people and places.

It is of great significance that the Land Use and Spatial Planning Authority (LUSPA) has developed a new system for the monitoring and implementation of the street naming and property address system.

The system enables LUSPA officers to work with local government authorities for the implementation of the already ongoing project.

The street address system started over 20 years ago, with metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) working with traditional authorities and other key stakeholders on the project.

But there are problems that inhibit the complete roll out of a functional street naming and property address system because local government authorities, who are constitutionally mandated to manage spatial development of the cities, are faced with challenges that hinder the efficient planning and effective coordination and control of physical development.

Again, some of the local authorities have gaps in the preparation of appropriate city layouts, and even in instances where they are prepared, the enforcement of land use regulations has been weak.

Indeed, the pace of development of properties in most urban centres has outstripped the rate at which the local government authorities are able to design approved layouts to be used as a basis for enforcement.

This development has resulted in a situation where a considerable number of developed properties have no permits as well as addresses, as most of the developments hardly go through the approval processes of the MMDAs.

However, planning theory shows that when people and local power structures are not involved in the planning process of a project, its implementation often runs into difficulties.

For us, functional street naming and property addressing are the basic systems of identifying a physical location in cities.

They are tools city local authorities can use to track urban growth by guiding the development and provision of infrastructure and services in the urban environment.

They also help businesses deliver essential services and provide a reference system for the delivery of mail more effectively and efficiently.

Even more important is that a functional street naming and numbering system forms the basis for the intuitive identification of places.

Residents and visitors alike depend on street addresses to find their way.

Indeed, many street names are linked to a cultural set of identification born out of local or regional, ethnic or historical inventory.

The Daily Graphic, therefore, recommends that implementing a standardised address system for an evolving urban centre should involve the integration of all the various approaches used within the metropolitan area to ensure data interoperability.

Again, informal settlements and low-income suburbs must be considered as priority areas for future implementation exercises in order to facilitate service delivery.

There must be effective sensitisation campaigns for the street address project, especially as residents are major stakeholders.

An awareness campaign is necessary to dispel the negative view of house numbers among the public. Community fora can also be used to address the sensitive issue of street names in neighbourhoods where a compromise or understanding can be reached.