RSG Prepares PH City For 2050 Challenges

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has stated that the government is working hard to prepare the city of Port Harcourt and its environs for the phenomenal challenges of the expansion and growth of the city and the overflowing human population with its attendant complexities by the year 2050.
Wike said that what was occupying the attention of his administration was how the city would cope with the challenges of urbanisation by the year 2050, when the world’s population would have nearly doubled.
The governor disclosed this in an address he presented on the occasion of Stakeholders’ Summit on Urban Thinkers Campus (UTC), a United Nations Habitat III Programme with the theme: ‘The City We Need,’ held at the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Wike, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Hon Kenneth Kobani explained that Rivers State was amongst the few states selected for this exercise as well as hosting the forum for the first time in the history of the state.
He stressed that population, economic, social and cultural interactions as well as environmental and humanitarian impacts were increasingly concentrated in cities and pose massive sustainability issues in terms of housing, infrastructure, basic services, among others, adding that these call for the concerted efforts of all stakeholders to address their consequences.
The governor expressed dismayed that most cities’ urban management was treated with levity, adding that in Rivers State, prior to 2015, policies and programmes in urban development were dysfunctional, un-participatory and deficient in addressing the challenges of urban development.
“Determined to change the face of the city and to develop other parts of the state, as a government, we painstakingly reviewed all the planning policies and programmes in the state.
“After due consultation with relevant stakeholders and the general public, a new urban policy tagged: ‘New Rivers Vision For Urban And Rural Development,’ was unveiled aimed to upgrade, provide and modernize social infrastructure in our major towns such as Port Harcourt, Ahoada, Bori and Degema, and envelope them along the part of environmentally sustainable cities,” the governor added.
He noted that “the policy represents a shared vision for a better and more sustainable future, one in which people would have equal rights, access to the benefits and opportunities those cities can offer”, while pointing out that some of the challenging issues confronting the New Urban Agenda include, “Waste generation, slums with attendant criminality, over-crowded schools and hospitals, among others.”
He expressed happiness that the New Urban Vision was already a success as there were lots of massive investment in road construction to ease traffic flow, adding that it was expected that the people and stakeholders will appreciate the strategic and comprehensive new town vision which seeks to develop new urban centres, maintain and manage efficiently the existing urban centres in the state.
Also speaking, the Commissioner for Housing, Elder Tasie Chinedu Nwobueze stated that Rivers State was amongst the 74 selected cities by the UN Habitat Urban Thinkers Campus Committee to host the stakeholders meeting on urban planning aimed at giving support in mapping strategic programmes on model cities needed in Nigeria.
Nwobueze added that it was also aimed at the formulation of policies on slums’ upgrading, while reducing forceful evictions and encouraging construction of decent affordable housing for all.
He noted that the platform was designed for critical exchange of ideas between stakeholders and partners aimed at promoting sustainable urbanization as well as addressing challenges to urban future.
Earlier in her address, Executive Director, International Women Communication Centre (IWCC) Nigeria and member, UN Habitat III Advisory Committee in Africa, Dr Limota Goroso Giwa said the forum was meant to popularize the new urban agenda campaign through the World Urban Thinker Campaign and The City We Need Project.
She described Urban Thinkers Campus as: “the bringing of stakeholders together on a platform like this, to reason and pan together on the kind of city we need,” adding that The City We Need Project in Nigeria campaign would be taking place in five states including, Kogi, Kwara, Rivers, Lagos and Katsina.
“Reason for selecting these states is to give geographical spread of all regions of Nigeria and to give general overview and perceptions on the major uniqueness of our ancient cities like Lagos, Katsina, Lokoja, Port Harcourt and Jebba in Kwara State, the home of Mongo Park into the World Map of The City We Need Project in the 21st century,” she added.
She stressed that the objectives are to address three major components of the new urban agenda namely: “Infrastructure, Human Capital and Human Rights” by engaging stakeholders on slum upgrading and desertification mitigation, safer city and security of land tenure, advocate for improved situation of poor dwellers and access to government action towards securing decent housing for the masses.