Excited by the urban renewal policies of the Rivers State Government, Amnesty International has called on the authorities to establish an “Urban Renewal Board,” in the state.
The call was contained in a press by the human rights advocacy group and made available to The Weekend Tide.
The group asserted that if the board is established, it would help drive the redevelopment scheme of the government in the waterfronts area of the capital city of Port Harcourt.
Adding, “… they should have established an, “Urban Renewal Board,” which would have declared the waterfront communities, an ‘improvement area’ for improvement plan.
Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme, Erwin Vander Borght stressed the need for the government to explore, “all feasible alternatives to evictions and avoid or minimize the use of force”.
The body also urged the government to follow the physical planning and Development law of 2003, which among other things provided the need for alternative housing for the occupants of the area.
However, the report did not take into cognizance the huge compensation and other palliative measures offered by the authorities in Rivers State to ease the pains of the renewal programme.
It did not also make any reference to the initiatives introduced by the newly established Ministry of Urban Planning and that of the Greater Port Harcourt City to provide low cost housing in the outskirts.
The area under the redevelopment plan along the Njemanze waterfront stretch along approximately 300 metres of road. They are expected to be demolished to give way for the Silverbird Galleria and Entertainment Complex.
Explaining why the government insists on redeveloping the area, Governor Chibuike Amaechi had at different fora stated that the demolition along the waterfront area is “to sanitise and check criminal activities”.