BY JIMITOTA ONOYUME
PORT HARCOURT – GOVERNOR Chibuike Rotimi AmaechiÂ has vowed not to go back on the demolition of water fronts in the state capital. The governor who reiterated government position on the issue that water fronts would give way for proper development said his administration was determined to create a habitable and decent Port Harcourt city
Speaking whenÂ he received Okrika Council of Chiefs in Government House, Port Harcourt ,the governor explained that after the demolition, government would sand fill the area to pave way for the infrastructural development in line with acceptable standards for waterfront settlements.
Continuing, he said that the demolition would be in phases just as he assured that before then there would be proper enumeration and evaluation in the areas to determine the extent of compensations to be paid.
According to him, already enumeration and evaluation had been done at Njemanze, Abonnema Wharf , Elechi Beach , and Nanka Waterfronts and advised residents in the remaining waterfronts to cooperate with the enumerators and valuers to enable them achieve set objectives.
He also advised the people of Okrika to support the efforts of government to sanitize and develop waterfronts in the state, as the policy was the best possible alternative to improve the lives of those living in urban slums.
The governor frowned at the attack on government agents carrying out their legitimate duties at some of the waterfronts, and called for a change of attitude as government would no longer tolerate such.
Governor Amaechi, however promised to redeem his promise to do land reclamation in Okrika Local Government Area and directed the Commissioner of Works to identify the areas to be reclaimed..
Earlier in a memorandum read by Chief Tari Sekibo, the Chiefs of Okrika requested that government should re-design and restructure the various waterfront communities with minimal disruption of lives, dislocation of people and demolition of properties.
Attempt to demolish water fronts in the state capital is not new. It would be recalled that it was a major issue that over heated the body polity in the administration of deposed governor Celestine Omehia. And when governor Rotimi Amaechi came on board via a supreme court verdict, one of the first action he took was to suspend the planned demolition of the water fronts by the Omehia government. The action endeared him to residents of the slum neighbourhood.
It appeared it later dawned on the government that one major way to tackle security challenges in the state capital was to develop the water fronts that have been noted over the years to be hide outs for hoodlums and brigands because of the way the places are. It is difficult to trace a criminal to such areas except one is very familiar with the environment.