Old PH Township Wears New Look, As Residents Hail Wike

Caterpillar recovering old tar in Bonny Street.

When Chief Nyesom Wike came on board on May 29, 2015, he promised to implement an urban renewal policy aimed at revamping the outlook of Port Harcourt metropolis.
The plan came in two fronts: “Operation Zero Pothole” and massive road construction. To achieve this he divided the city into two as he awarded the project to two multinationals – Julius Berger Nigeria and Chinese Construction Company (CCCE).
While Julius Berger is to oversee works in the Old Port Harcourt Township area comprising adjoining Streets of Niger, Bonny and Victoria stretching down to Borokiri, CCCE to oversee works in Diobu and Government Reserved Areas.
So, between May and October when the governor celebrated his 100 days in office, Julius Berger achieved a massive milestone when it completed the road leading to Borokiri waterfront with two massive drains emptying into the creeks bordering the area.
Currently, residents of Borokiri are enjoying a smooth ride to their houses, including a flood free environment in many homes within the axis.
Shortly after completing the Borokiri Road, the governor commenced the reconstruction of Creek Road, a major artery link to the heart of the Old City. Not only was Creek Road notorious for its traffic jam and roadside markets, the road became a trap due to abandoned road reconstruction work by the previous administration.
Due to the poor work executed by the construction firm, the road became more dilapidated than before with poorly built drains. The project was reawarded to the German Construction firm, Julius Berger Nigeria Limited.
Today from Creek Road stretching to Tourist Beach is now a new glieglight district with night life booming more than before.
A resident of the area Comrade Iyaye Johnson told The Tide that the new urban renewal in Old Port Harcourt township is unprecedented”, though the past administration tied to reconstruct the roads, but it was not a solid job, and that is why we commend Wike for the reconstruction”.
According to Comrade Johnson, “from Captain Amangala, Bishop Johnson to Tourist Beach the drains are very good and the water flashes down into the river”.
What excites him the more is the ongoing reconstruction work on Bonny Street He believes that the current project will cover adjoining streets of Victoria and Bendel.
Another resident who spoke to The Tide on the project is Osaki Konibo, who runs a computer business centre on Bonny Street.
“I have lived in this street for 14 years,” Konibo said, “before the current work there used to be flooding around here and many businesses was affected”
The young businessman is confident that once the project is completed business will bounce back, though currently most of the access to the adjoining streets have been blocked to allow smooth construction works.
Patrick Alalibo recalled that Bonny Street was among the streets that was revamped by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) between 2014-2015, but observed that the project was poorly executed.
“The drains were totally blocked before now, “ Alalibo recalled, they just poured tar and dug a very shallow gutter for us but I want to thank Governor Wike for remembering us again”.
Johnson further said that before now, “all these streets were in bad shape, especially Victoria Street, but I’am happy the governor has approved that Bonny Street should be rebuilt.
He wants the project to be extended to other streets as he commended Julius Berger for the good job they did to revamp Captain Amangala and Adaka Boro Streets.
Commenting on the ongoing work, Emmanuel Frank remarked, “this work is commendable and we thank the government for remembering us here in town”.
Frank is one of the many youths on Bonny, Victoria and Bendel Streets who subsist from watching over vehicles parked by those who go to buy wares from Creek Road market. They make brisk money from the car owners who park in front of the houses on the Street.
By allowing vehicles to be parked in front of their houses, they ask for security fees. “Since this project started our little business have stopped”, Frank lamented to The Tide.
The same view was expressed by Alalibo who said, “they blocked all the whole access points into the Streets making it difficult for us to survive”.
With their business shut down, most of them accused the construction firm of not engaging them in the project.
“We are not engaged”, Alalibo declared, “and we want the governor to know about it. As residents here we are supposed to be engaged in the menial jobs on site but we are not”.
He is of the view since many of them lack jobs, hence they engage in providing security and parking space to those who visit Creek Road market.
Another issue bothering the residents of the adjoining Streets to Creek Road market is the dumping of wastes by those selling fish in the area.
Frank stated, “Once it’s evening time we can’t stay in our houses because of the bad odour coming out from the market”.
He said most of the wastes are rotten meats and fish thrown into the drains by the market women, as he called on the authorities to intervene.
If the activities of the market women are not checked Franc maintained that soon the new drainage being built will be blocked by wastes.
Alalibo wants the market to be relocated from the neighbourhood, as it poses health threat to those living around the area.
“There is so much mosquito and rat from the drains because of wastes from rotten fish and meat thrown into them”, Alalibo said.
The same view was expressed by Konibo, “we have fresh fish sellers around here and they dump their waste into the drainage. Government should try and move the market outside here”.
Konibo insists activities of Creek Road Market is fast affecting the safety and health of residents in thearea.
A visit to Creek Road Market shows that with the reconstruction of the road and coupled with the road barricades built to restrict roadside hawking and selling, the market is now being pushed into adjoining streets and Bonny Street is the most affected.