PH Residents Lament High Cost Of Living

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It is therefore not uncommon in the city to see neatly dressed people who hussle in the day time and sleep in shacks and under flyovers in the night.

A young man of about 30 years of age recently made a frantic attempt to climb the gate of one of the oil companies in Port Harcourt.

Despite his appeals and explanation of the purples of his visit, the gate remained shut against him. He was wrapped in a tangle of misery and self pity. In his utter frustration, the barred visitor said he no longer blames people who go into crime as an option for life after facing untold hardship and a rejection from the society.

His predicament represents the collective frustration of many people who throng into Port Harcourt, the Garden City of Nigeria to reap of its supposedly blooming prospect but meet a situation of gloom and despair. Port Harcourt remains the delight of many Nigerians and offers irresistible  attraction because of its strategic location and prime objective, expecially in the oil and gas industry.

Like the story of the youngman who could not access the gate of the oil company, most people that move into the city to eke out a livelihood wrestle with the elusive ghost of cost paradise dreams as hardship stare them in the face. They however bare the strains of struggle and live out their lives in the status they are consigned by fate. Some seek artificial means of enhancing their status symbol and participate first hand in the luxurious indulgence and other trappings of city live. To this category of people, crime proof the most worthwhile option of clearing the bumps on the economic  highway.

Port Harcourt residents are variegated. They consist an odd assortments of individuals operating at various levels of economic existence and status.

There are the employed and the unemployed. The blue-collar and the white-collar jobbers. The business people and the petty criminals. The middle class and the bourgeois,  and they all jostle for live and the fortunes and opportunities offered by the city. No category of resident in the city is exclusively shielded from the harsh wind of economic reality.

Port Harcourt has a bloated Population and economic demands in the city is very high. One of the greatest problems faced by residents in the city is that of accommodation. Because of the teeming population of the city, the available house  because in sufficient and ulitities and existing infrastructures are been stretched.

A one room apartment in the city can be afforded at N5,000 a month, while a self-contain apartment is given within the rates of N130 to N150,000, depending on the location. For many residents of the city, expensive accommodation is out of view. The major thing is how to put food on the table on daily bases.

It is therefore not uncommon in the city to see neatly dressed people who hussle in the day time and sleep in shacks and under flyovers in the night.

To avoid the prying eyes of the city landlord over their rent demands, many presidents of the city, choose to live in the slums and cluster settlements in make shift apartments where about six to seven persons live in a room. They stalk out daily for survival and retire home to sleep vows in the improvised accommodation.

One of the worst victims of the biting hardship in the city are civil servants,  especially those of the lower cadre. A civil servant  who spoke with The Tide On Sunday but will not want his name in print said he finds it difficult take feed his family because of the high cost of living in the city. The civil servant, a middle aged man married with three children, said he had to device a means of coping with the harsh economic realities so that his  family would not starve to death.

“My salary can not pay my children school fee and feed the family well. What do is that I establish a small business for my wife to do, my wife is a petti-trader and it is from their that we eat, I also get my daily transport fare from the proceeds of the little business, my salary is just to pay the children school fees,” he lamented.

But Mr. Calab Chukwu who works with a private firm in Port Harcourt would preffer to be a civil servant. His reasons: ‘Although the money paid civil servants is small, their job is secured and guaranted. As a private firm worker you live at the mercy of your employer who can fire you at any time. The salary also fluctuate as he can reduce or increase it at any time depending on his temperament or state of the business.” Chukwu who is in his late 30s said he plan to marry the girl of his choice shattered because be could not raises enough money to pay the bride price. Chukwu also quit with his uncle as he can not pay  for a private accommodation.  He said his estranged fiancé gave it as a condition for him to secure a privacy for themselves and since he could not meet up the bargain she opted out.

Mr. Timi Akori, a mother of four and also a private firm employee said the challenges of family life is becoming heavier as her husband is a pensioner and has no active job to support the family at the moment. “I can no longer meet up the demand of my family. The salary I receive at the end of every month is too small. I would have opted out of the job but I just have to manage because my family has to eat.?

Market trader are also not spared of the hardship in the city. A cross section of market women interviewed at the mile one market complain of lack of effective patronate.

According to one of the traders, Miss Rose Kpesi that high cost of transporting the goods from the hinterland  is considered in the prices and buyers often complain that the goods are expensive. “It is not our fault, that good cost high this days, most of our product come from the villages and even others  states and the coster transportation is high we have to consider our transport far so that we don’t run out of business.” Port Harcourt is generally assumed to be a wealth city. Business men and women from other states with this mindset love into the city with the though of making much money. But they are astounded by the high cost of living in the city and this affects their business operations.

 

Taneh Beemene