Demolition of Abonnema and other water front communities
ON Tuesday and Wednesday June 26 and 27, 2012, the government of Rivers State mobilized some earth-moving equipment to Abonnema Wharf to demolish all houses and destroy property, thereby rendering a community of about 10,000 people homeless. Men, women, children were under heavy rain with their property.
This act of the Rivers State Government is inhuman, oppressive, heartless, and an abuse of right to shelter.
Abonnema Wharf is one of the over 40 waterfronts communities scattered across Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, which houses over 80 per cent of the city residents.
The state government has brandished the communities as nests of criminals that must be demolished. Governor Rotimi Amaechi claimed that the demolition is part of the urban renewal policy and also to check activities of criminally-minded individuals who use the water-fronts as operational bases.
But will the same government demolish highbrow areas because some looters in position of power who have stolen public funds reside there?
However, each time these heartless “leaders” want to render the poor homeless so as to acquire the same land, they blackmail the poor as criminals not fit to live. For instance, in Lagos when Colonel Raji Rasaki, a former military governor of the state, wanted to demolish Maroko in 1990, the reason he gave was that criminals hid in the community.
About 300,000 people were rendered homeless. Years later, the same Maroko is now home for the rich. Does it make sense to demolish highbrow areas because some fraudulent politicians who looted and are still looting public funds resides there?
In a similar vein, the residents said that all the waterfronts in Port Harcourt have been reserved for hotels, cinemas, parks, shopping malls and houses for the rich.
So, when the poor are chased out, the rich come to occupy! Besides, since Njemanze waterfront was demolished in August 2009 rendering about 19,000 people homeless, no major development has commenced.
Mr. TEMPLE MORFORD, a social critic, wrote from Port-Harcourt, Rivers State.