The Compensation Committee responsible for the disbursement of due payments to affected property owners and landlords of Abonnema Wharf waterfront in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area, Rivers State, has undertaken an on-the-spot site verification of disputed properties to ascertain their true ownership.
Speaking to newsmen during the exercise yesterday, one of the leading consultants, Mr Utchey Ukorji, said the visit had enabled the team to verify the actual owners of properties in dispute in the area.
He said the next step would be to immediately recommend the genuine owners of such confirmed properties to government for payment.
Ukorji explained that experience from the exercise showed that some persons were merely making false claims, stressing that most of the false claimants, for fear of being apprehended, deliberately refused to turn-up at the site of properties they had laid claim to, despite well-publicised invitation extended to them.
The consultant noted that in addition to the documentations, the team was able to arrive at the true and genuine ownership of properties in question through a collective consent of landlords, tenants, neighbours and residents of the exercise.
Earlier, some of the property owners had thanked the team for carrying out a well-conceived physical verification of the disputed properties in Abonnema Wharf, and pointed out that the exercise had doused tension by exposing those making false claims to other persons’ properties.
Meanwhile, more than 700 property owners and landlords at Abonnema Wharf have been cleared for payment of compensation for their properties affected in the government’s effort to develop the waterfront to world-class residential area.
To this end, 90 per cent of the genuine property owners had been issued their cheques by the committee handling the compensation exercise.
Chairman of the verification and payment committee, Utchey Ukorji, who disclosed this while speaking with newsmen at the payment centre at the state Secretariat Complex, Port Harcourt, added that payment of those affected which began since May 21, would continue until all genuine property owners were paid after screening and verification of their claims.
Ukorji debunked insinuations that some properties were under-valued, pointing out that the valuation was in line with statutory provisions of the Land Use Act, which are not only justifiable, but could be defended anywhere in the country.
According to him, the compensation value of property in Abonnema Wharf was strictly related to the kind of and quality of all properties and structures on ground in the area.
He advised the few genuine property owners yet to be cleared to come forward for necessary verification and payment, adding that no real landlord or property owner in Abonnema Wharf would be left unpaid despite the ongoing demolition of structures in the area.
However, some of those who received their cheques last week, expressed satisfaction with the payment process, and appealed to the state government to consider genuine complaints from some persons on alleged under-valuation of their properties.