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Gated Neighbourhoods and privatisation of urban security in Ibadan Metropolis

Oluseyi Fabiyi


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1The concern for safety is increasing daily in most Nigerian cities, this concern and the emergence of private initiatives in prevention and control of crime is continuously transforming most Nigerian urban residential precincts to the similitude of medieval settlements when accessibilities were highly controlled through city gates and walls.

2Gated communities are not alien to Nigeria, the intra tribal wars and the anarchy that characterised the 16th century brought about a number of gated towns in both Northern and Southern parts of the country ; the kingships and nobles also lived in fortified communities. The colonial rule and the installation of formal government in Nigeria made such city gates irrelevant with time. However a new dimension of gated neighbourhoods emerged in the seventies and eighties which involved fragmentation of residential precincts into smaller informal neighbourhoods through closures of access roads by gates and walls.

3The street gates are constructed by the collective effort of residents through various neighbourhood associations. These neighbourhood associations emerge though informal urban governance structure to enforce popularly agreed norms, forms and social control including the concept of crime.

4The neighbourhood associations develop mechanisms to deal with the threats of crimes m the neighbourhood which include recruitment of private security personnel, control of access to streets and surveillance of streets by selected residents both during the day and at night.

5The research questions from this premise are :

6Why and how do residents erect gates and other forms of control s on the public access roads ?

7What are the modalities of institutionalising privatisation of neighbourhood security in Nigerian cities ?

8What are the success rates of neighbourhood associations’ activities, especially as relates to neighbourhood safety ?

9Do residents grouping and regrouping contribute to social exclusion ?

10What relationship do neighbourhoods socio economic characteristics play in the transformations of neighbourhood morphology and access control ?

11These questions and other research concerns brought about the composition of a research team by IFRA (Ibadan), IFAS (Johannesburg) and IFRA (Nairobi) to explore developing a comparative study of three cities with the intention of understanding urban spatial dynamics and the factors determining gating in Sub-Saharan African cities.

12The aim of the study is to critically examine the nature, trends and types of urban spatial changes in some selected neighbourhoods of Ibadan metropolis(Nigeria) Nairobi(Kenya) and Johannesburg (Republic of South Africa) occasioned by concern for security. The study also analyses the factors that give rise to various strategies adopted by residents to ensure safer neighbourhoods, especially as relates to privatisation of streets and local accesses by residents.

13The objectives include :

  • To examine how neighbourhood associations organise themselves to ensure safer neighbourhoods.
  • To investigate and examine the factors that prompts and determine erection of street gates in the study area.
  • To develop a GIS database on gating and neighbourhood characteristics.
  • To evaluate the level of effectiveness of different crime prevention strategies in the neighbourhoods.
  • To evaluate the evolution of neighbourhood associations and examine the relationship between neighbourhood association activities and crime level in neighbourhood.
  • To compare the experiences and the GIS of gated neighbourhoods in the selected cities of Africa.

14This study is a follow up of the earlier pilot study carried out between January and March, 2003. The report of the pilot study was presented at the Johannesburg workshop in April 2003. The publication represents the observations in Ibadan metropolis.

15This fïeld survey was carried out between April 17th 2004 and August 17th 2004. The methods adopted were divided into three based on the agreed methodology with other researchers on the project in the other two cities ; Johannesburg and Nairobi.

16Three sets of data were used in this study as follows :

(a) Street maps

17Aerial photographs of the city captured in 1992 were obtained. The photographs were used to extract the street maps of the city. The pre-processed photographs were obtained from land and Survey Department of Oyo State in Nigeria. The streets were extracted from the photographs and ground checks were used in areas where tree canopies obscure streets. The extracted street maps were merged and geographically referenced to produce a geographic street map and consequently the GIS database. The street map thus produced was updated through extensive fieldwork and other relevant data. This approach was adopted due to lack of geographically referenced street maps in the study area as at the time of conducting this survey.

b) Security points enumeration

18Using the street maps produced in (a) above a detailed census of all the gates and their geographic locations was carried out with the assistantce of field enumerators who are trained in map reading and GIS. Questionnaire was developed to capture the characteristics of gates and the level of control of accessibility at every enumerated security point. The questionnaire contains questions of the environmental types, type of barrier, type of cross bars, the types and characteristics of protection on gates such as spikes or barbed wires, the gate-wall types and characteristics, the presence of protection on walls, the presence or absence of guard houses and security personnel at gates, the types of accessibility allowed at the gates to non residents and the level of control at the security points. Four teams of field enumerators were formally trained on the gate enumeration and the filling of the attached questionnaire. They were formally trained on how to insert the location of the street gates on the roads and the identification of streets that are enclosed through the erected gates. The measurement of gate height and the classification of gates into different types were also clarified to avoid ambiguity. Each team of two enumerators have an attached vehicle to move around while most of the time, the enumerators had to walk long distances to establish the enclosed streets by an erected gate. Ambiguities were usually resolved with the assistance of a field supervisor. The entire metropolis was divided into study cordons for easy management. Each team of enumerators were assigned some specific areas to cover and contiguous team areas were clearly marked-out to avoid boundary-crossing between two teams. Each team was expected to enter the filed data in a prepared coding sheet at the end of each working day and make return visit in case of doubt about location or characteristics of the gates. The field work for gate enumeration was carried out between April 22nd and June 19th 2004. All the residential streets in Ibadan metropolis were examined and the locations of gates and crossbars identified, consequently a total of eight hundred and sixty two residential streets were captured during the survey.

c) Neighbourhood association survey

19On a separate fieldwork, which started in August 23rd to October 4th 2004 four teams of enumerators were trained for focus group discussions (FGD). The land lord / residents’ association officials were targeted for discussion and interview. The emphases of the topic/ questions for discussion are the activities of the association and the maintenance of security in the neighbourhoods. Though the initial target of this research was to achieve total enumeration of the landlord / residents’ association in Ibadan metropolis, some neighbourhood associations were not forthcoming in releasing information about their activities while some gave inconsistent information, therefore such responses were jettisoned in the course of the analysis. Some residents’ associations encountered in the course of the field survey misinterpreted the objectives of the field survey, therefore giving obvious false information. This group of information was equally dropped during the analysis.

20The result of the security point enumeration was developed into a GIS database and the relationship between the types of security points and the land use pattern was examined. On the other hand the neighbourhood association data were statistically analysed to reveal pattern s and relationships.

The following are specific observations :

21Security points : Gated neighbourhoods are spatial bias in Ibadan metropolis, gates are found mostly in the medium density (Middle income) and the low density (High income) neighbourhoods, only few are found in the high density areas.

22There are three major types of security points in Ibadan metropolis which are crossbars (a piece of iron rod placed across two iron stumps with locks) these are more prominent in the middle income areas while gates (Two-leave iron doors) are more in the rich neighbourhoods. The third control are the completely closed gates which are found on some roads leading to lonely or undeveloped areas.

23A total of 862 residential streets were examined and their security points entered in the GIS database.

24A total of 187 active crossbars were found in the study areas and 143 abandoned cross bars. Some 76.9 % of the crossbars are found in the medium density area, while 14.5 % are in the low density area ; only 8.6 % are in the high density areas. There are more abandoned crossbars in the high density areas (67.3 %) than those in use (32.7 %).

25Perforated gates are common in the study area (88.0 %), while flat gates cover only 2.1 % of gates. Gates are generally prominent in the rich areas than crossbars. In some rich neighbourhoods crossbars are combined with gates. The height of gates ranges between 2.5 meters to 4 meters. Most gates observed have protection on top, such as spikes, barbed wire on top and even electricity 91.1 %.

26Gates and cross bars are essentially designed to restrict vehicular movement alone, some provisions are made for pedestrians.

27Neighbourhood association activities : A total of 109 neighbourhood associations were interviewed and the following are the summary of observations About 29.7 % of all associations were created in the 1970s while over 86.4 % were created from the 1980s to date. More than half of the associations were created in the last ten years.

28Security is the major issue for forming neighbourhood associations, though other functions such as community development are usually peddled to generate support from residents. Associations were formed through mobilisation of few interested individuals 92.5 % and membership is primarily voluntary at the inception. However, as soon as associations become strong and large, new residents are forced to join. A total of 79.2 % associations claimed that membership of the association is compulsory for all residents. The NA (Neighbourhood association) leadership is principally informal and is based on collective aspirations of members.

29The size of association membership is between 20 and 100 members with mean values of 60 membership. In most of the associations, one member represents a house unit, but in the case of multi-tenanted housing, two residents may be allowed to attend NA meetings.

30The study also shows that violent crimes are neighbourhood bias ; the rich neighbourhoods are more at risk than the poor neighbourhoods. Petty crimes like burglary, store breaking, fighting and disorderly conducts are prominent among the poor neighbourhoods Consequently the rich neighbourhoods adopt reduction of access through the use of gates to prevent crime while the poor areas adopt crossbars and night watchmen. It was also observed that the rich neighbourhood associations are less cohesive and funding is quite small. This could be attributed to the fact that the residents in rich neighbourhoods do not depend solely on the general security control measure provided by the neighbourhood associations. There are varieties of individual efforts made to ensure safety of properties and lives. The poor neighbourhoods however heavily depend on the general security apparatus in the neighbourhood.

31It was also observed that the poor neighbourhood have some form of control over membership and sometimes enforce compliance, however the reverse is the case in the rich neighbourhood, membership is purely voluntary whereas force and cohesion are common in the poor neighbourhoods.

32The middle class reveal a form of lassie fair approach to security issues and a most incoherent neighbourhood association where it exists at all. The experience in the middle class neighbourhood shows a picture of a wide variety of opinions and life styles. It is difficult to enforce a general security measure in the area. It is difficult to arrive at a consensus in these neighbourhoods.

33The use of local ethnic militia popularly known in the area as (OPC) odua peoples congress is heavily patronised by the poor areas while the rich areas have preference for corporate guards or accredited watchmen. There is no neighbourhood in the study area that adopts police protection, while only a small percentage involves the police in security issues. Most of the poor neighbourhoods only report crimes to the police while some rich neighbourhoods often hold meetings with the police or assist the police in providing some basic tools. The wide dichotomy in security control between the rich and poor neighbourhoods suggests that a different policy would be required to ensure safer neighbourhood in both the rich and poor areas.

34Consequently, the study shows that there is quite a lot of useful information available in the informal security network organised by neighbourhood associations, which can aid policy formulation on safer street programmes especially the new approach by the Nigerian Police to introduce community policing for effective crime control in Nigerian cities. The culture and procedure adopted by respective neighbourhoods to police their environment can be harnessed by the government and such network made more dynamic and effective for the control of crime in these urban areas.

35Quite a number of authors highlighted that gated communities contribute to spatial fragmentation in urban areas. It reflects an increasing polarisation, fragmentation and increasing solidarity within the urban society. There are sharp contrasts in researchers’ opinions about gated communities. Some believe that gated communities encourage social exclusion, that it is a choice of excluding others, some researchers show that enclosure encourages social inclusion through emergence of social cohesion on the principles of ‘club goods, where people club together for individual mutual benefits.

36The experience in Ibadan metropolis however clearly reveals a renaissance of collective efficacy and localised primary affiliations which were initially eroded by the anonymised city systems. This culture of social inclusion has adopted norms, practices and regulations that point to the need for further research. The neighbourhood associations bring people in neighbourhood together thus encouraging socialisation and development of primary affiliation.

37The definition of crime by the neighbourhood associations reflect only property crime and other violent disorderly behaviours, a number of crimes in the national legal code are outside the jurisdiction of the neighbourhood association, such crime include domestic violence, incest, fraud and forgery. There is no adequate mechanism by the neighbourhood associations to track down such crimes in their respective neighbourhoods.

38Gated communities can also lead to privatisation of public space or the reservation of certain spaces for exclusive use by certain homogenous social groups. Spatially gated neighbourhoods also change the nature of the existing public space or the reservation of certain spaces for only a few in Ibadan metropolis. Closure of streets in most residential neighbourhoods in Ibadan metropolis often puts pressure on the available alternative routes thus causing congestion at certain periods of week ends when some of the gates are closed even during the day. By nature, enclosure and gated community physically separates a particular area from its environment and creates zones or pockets of restricted access within the urban fabric. These pockets of enclaves force motorists and pedestrians to take alternative routes, which are often longer. Consequently, enclosed neighbourhoods impact on the daily activity pattern of the people as well as the urban form and its functioning.

39The activities of the neighbourhood association reveal a subtle existence of another informal tier of urban governance in Nigeria. At this level, the governance is undoubtedly accountable and more transparent than the conventional governance in the country. People directly contribute to projects and therefore demand service-delivery from the executives. There is generally no fïnancial assistance from the existing three tiers of government in Nigeria to the association. They have however proved effective and efficient in dealing with security problems in the neighbourhoods as well as other developmental projects. Though property tax evasion is rampant in Nigeria the levy imposed by landlord associations are rarely evaded. The neighbourhood associations could be integrated into tenement rating collection in Nigerian cities.

40Seyi Fabiyi (Ph.D) October, 2004

© IFRA-Nigeria, 2004

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