PORT HARCOURT—Rivers State Government has called on investors within and outside Nigeria to partner with it in developing the Greater Port Harcourt City, a new city being developed with the aim of expansion, decongestion and the general development of Port Harcourt into a world class mega city.
The government also reiterated its commitment to funding the first phase of the project. Already, some developmental projects have been sited with the new city. They include the Justice Karibi Whyte Mega Specialist Hospital, the Garden City Sports Centre, Chief Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium, the new Rivers State University of Science and Technology, among others.
Administrator of the Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority GHPCDA, Dame Aleruchi Cookey-Gam, told journalists at a briefing in Port Harcourt, said that the state resolved to commence development in the Phase 1A of the master plan to position it for further investments, locally and internationally.
She noted that the government has ensured the enactment of laws backing developments in the new city which cover security of investments.
“To get the partnership of the private sector and international investors we had to start doing things right so people can see that we mean business.”
We have enacted several laws, like the Public procurement law, Public Private Participation law which is to regulate private partnerships and ease investor confidence; the Rivers State fiscal planning development law; and the recent promulgation of the Land use Prohibition of Extortion Law to keep youths from demanding unlawful fees from developers which had in the past inhibited development in the State.” She said.
Early investors have also been guaranteed an advantage. “We expect that our first pioneer people get some kind of concessions, I mean, if I see someone who is ready to invest big, I don’t think I’ll be worrying myself about how much he is going to pay me for the land. If you’re going to fast track what we are doing. So the first comers will of course get an advantage that the late comers would not get. We are still trying to work out good concessions that will encourage investors. Each investment comes with its own need so it’s on a needs basis. ” She said.
Cookey-Gam stated that the master plan is divided and would be implemented in phases. “Tenders for infrastructure projects mapped out in the first phase of 1000 hectares are completed and awaiting approval after which work will commence. We intend to start in November after getting approval from the Bureau of Public Procurement”
“We have master plans for roads, housing, water, waste water, storm water, and integrated waste management plan and so on. So far the only part of Port Harcourt that has a sewage system is the Secretariat; every other development in the city has been run by individual septic tanks. This is why we plan to build a sewage treatment plant that will serve the new city and the old city.”
She explained that out of the planned 30, 000 housing units in the first phase, the government would start with 3000. The Phase 1A also comprises a golf course, educational areas for schools with the Petroleum Development Fund PTDF as a major partner.
“We are also starting the development of the Central Spine road which will link the Airport and the Seaport, phase 1 will link Ikwerre Road while phase 2 will link the East-West Road. We also have the M1 Road; it is a freeway designed with interchanges that would link the New city to the Old City in the space of 15 to 20 minutes; another is the M10 road which will run from the old city to the Onne Seaport.
The Authority intends to achieve 24-hour electricity supply to the new city, integrated network of water supply, waterborne sewage, public transport, residential neighborhoods, Central Business districts and others. The area is comprehensively planned to avoid future obstructions.
For the residential areas, the government plans to build affordable houses with a population target of about six persons per household, while some areas are reserved for classy houses. These kinds of areas according to the GPHCDA administrator would be given to individuals who would develop themselves.
Educational layouts are also integrated in the Greater Port Harcourt City and a particular area has already been apportioned to PTDF to develop schools.
On the sustainability of the project, Dame Cookey-Gam stated that “besides the laws backing development of the GPH, I think that as we continue in our efforts of planning development, we see that a lot of people begin to appreciate such efforts. But so long as Nigerians decided not to stand up for what is right then we would never move forward. There will never be an Amaechi for about 20 years neither will there be an Amaechi for more than eight years. So I think it is the responsibility of the people to begin to appreciate that you must have a say to how you want things being run.”
Completion of a number of projects in the phase 1A of the GPH is projected at 2014.
It is also pertinent to note that the Greater Port Harcourt City development spans a duration of 50 years with a master plan covering an area of approximately 1900 square kilometers (40,000 hectares of land) with a projected population of about 2 million people.