By George Onah
Port Harcourtâ€” The Rivers State government has rejected claims that the planned demolition of waterfronts in Port Harcourt was politically motivated.
Rather, the government said, it was aimed at developing the areas for a safe and conducive habitation.
“A major concern of government was to rid the areas of criminal elements.
â€œPart of the plan for the place is to provide it with potable water, schools, hospitals, drainage, roads and electricity,” it said.
Commissioner for Urban Development, Mr. Osina Ginah, disclosed in Port Harcourt, when a delegation from Amnesty International, a human rights campaign organisation, visited on a fact-finding mission, explaining that the administration meant well for the people.
Ginah told the delegation that the waterfronts were temporary settlements which were â€œforcefully occupied and had overtime become hideouts for criminals and miscreants who are involved in kidnappings, undue militancy and other social vices.
“As a responsive and responsible government, we are desirous of ensuring security and better living environment for our people. Government discusses its policies and programmes with the people for a collective maximum result.â€
Ginah called on international organisations like UN Habitat to be more objective and balanced in their reports â€œas government was faced with a peculiar challenge of turning a hitherto crime- infested and dehumanizing slum into a better settlement.â€
On their part, the campaign co-ordinator, Amnesty International, Paul Helsloot and Nigeria Research of the organisation, Lucy Freeman, said they were in the state to ascertainÂ issues of housing rights and development of the waterfronts in the state.