PORT HARCOURTâ€”Following the planned demolition of ramshackle, shanty Waterfronts in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State government would be paying well over N20 billion as compensation to occupants of the areas to be demolished.
Rivers State governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, who spoke through his Senior Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, David Iyofor, said â€œover 2 billion naira will be paid as compensation to residents of Njemanze waterfront. N1.4billion has already been paid to those along the road close to the Silverbird showtime edifice.
â€œAnother 1.5 billion naira will be paid to occupants of Njemanze water front. Out of this figure, about N560million will be paid to those in the upland area of the waterfront, while N850million will be paid to those living very close to the water,â€ Iyofor said.
Iyofor said the demolition of the area would commence immediately after compensation had been paid.
And according to him, â€œas at last Friday, about half of the landlords have received their compensation cheques and the process is still ongoing.
â€œIn the Abonnema Wharf area waterfront, government is expected to pay about N2billion to occupants of that waterfront as compensation before carrying out its planned demolition.
â€œAll compensations are being paid at replacement value, that is the commercial value of the properties to be demolished. If you look at our laws, the land belongs to government and if we want to follow that, government would not be paying compensation as the land legally belongs to government.
â€œBut this administration is implementing this policy with a human face, and wants to ensure that those that will be displaced would be able to find better alternatives.â€
He also explained that two types of development would be done at the Waterfronts, adding that there would be mass housing project to be built by the state government.
According to him, this form of housing will allow for former residents of the waterfronts to come back and buy residential units for between 2 to 5 million naira and still live there.
â€œThe other is the up-market development. In this case, the properties will be for those who can afford it or they would be made to develop themselves to a certain standard. As for the mass housing, government is already looking at working out a scheme where the people can take low interest loans from banks to acquire these residential units that would be of different categories.â€
Iyofor enjoined the people of the state to support the government, stating that the policies and programmes of the Amaechi Administration were clearly for the general good and well being of the people.
He said: â€œGovernor Amaechi understands and shares the fears, concerns and pains of residents of these waterfronts and will do everything necessary and possible to support them.
â€œGovernment also cares so much about the security of lives and property and we all know that the waterfront areas have been hijacked by criminals.
Besides, it would not be proper to leave out the waterfronts from the Stateâ€™s Urban Renewal and Development programmes, considering that these waterfronts are ordinarily, ramshackle slums and shanties that are unfit for human habitation, unsightly and defaces the city.
â€œThese waterfronts are a vital part of the city. We, therefore, urge Rivers people and residents of the waterfronts not to pay attention to detractors and those who only want to politicize or ethnicize this laudable government policy, persons whose ignoble intentions is to use it to divide Rivers people .
â€œThere is no political or ethnic leaning to these demolitions. Itâ€™s for the development of the city, the good of the people, to better the standard of living of the people.â€
Iyofor added that the demolition and development process would always be implemented with a human face, and government carrying the people along, just as it has always been done from the inception of Amaechiâ€™s administration.
He said Rivers State government, under Governor Amaechi, has shown itâ€™s commitment to the welfare of the people with its readiness to pay well over N20bn as compensation to potential displaced people of these waterfronts, thereby ensuring that they were not left homeless.