Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, has placed a ban on street prostitution and all nightclub activities in parts of Port Harcourt.
Wike also announced the government’s resolve to take over abandoned plots of land and uncompleted buildings in GRA Port Harcourt – he said the properties would be reallocated to individuals who would develop them immediately.
The Governor, in his New Year message, also announced several other steps his administration is taking to restore the “garden city” status of Port Harcourt.
In his effort to also end the menace of the black soot, Governor Wike directed the destruction of illegal refineries in Port Harcourt and other parts of the State where such exists.
The Governor went further to announce that a task force would be set up to arrest manhole thieves.
Governor Nyesom Wike’s Broadcast in part:
“The beauty of the city is being defaced by illegal and indiscriminate trading on our streets, under flyovers and other unauthorized open spaces.”
I wish to remind citizens, therefore, that the ban on street trading and commuting on motorcycles in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas is still in force.
Consequently, I hereby direct the task force on Illegal Street trading to arrest and prosecute all those:
(i) shuttling with their motorcycles and or hawking foreign exchange along Birabi street, Hotel Presidential, GRA junction by Zenith Bank up to Tombia street; and
(ii) trading on, under and around the Rumuola junction and flyover; Rumuogba junction and flyover; and Rumuokoro junction and flyover.
Security personnel abetting illegal Street trading by collecting bribes and offering protection to street vendors are advised to desist immediately, or they would equally be made to face the wrath of the law.
Furthermore, we have decided to end the menace of cart-pushers who have become notorious for indiscriminate scavenging and littering of wastes on street corners and the medians of major roads and highways across the State.
These cart pushers and their unknown collaborators are also responsible for the recurring stealing of manhole covers, an act that endangers peoples’ lives and public safety on our roads.
Consequently, the State Government has placed an immediate ban on the activities of cart pushers and directs law enforcement agencies to arrest and prosecute anyone who attempts to violate this ban.
In addition, a task force would be put in place to enforce this ban while we plead with the courts in the interest of public safety and security to impose the severest of punishment under the law on any convicted manhole vandal.
The indiscriminate and prolonged packing of trailers and other articulated vehicles along our streets is another environmental menace we must tackle to bring sanity to our cities and living environment.
Consequently, I hereby direct the Chairmen of Port Harcourt, Ikwerre, Obio/Akpor, and Oyigbo Local Government Councils to impound within three weeks from today or remove any trailer, trucks, or trucks articulated vehicle that is packed on the streets beyond 48 hours in their respective administrative jurisdictions.
As we all know, achieving effective environmental sanitation in cities and urban centres is a global challenge, and ours is not an exception.
However, we are determined to improve on our refuse disposal system by reviewing, overhauling and strengthening the legal, institutional and economic framework for a more effective delivery of sanitation services to residents.
I urge that you bear with us for a while, and things will certainly change for the better in our refuse disposal system.
As an initial step towards achieving this objective, we have placed an immediate ban on the disposal of refuse on the streets or open spaces in both the old and new GRAs of Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas.
Therefore, every household in both old and new GRAs must procure and keep approved refuse disposal bins in the front of their houses to facilitate the door-to-door collection of the wastes they generate by designated contractors.
We will not hesitate to revoke the certificate of occupancy of any house in these areas without a refuse disposal bin or whose occupants are caught disposing refuse on the streets or open spaces.
We have also banned posting advert materials of any kind, including posters, flyers, pictures, artworks, placards or inscriptions on or under our flyovers, bridges, concrete walls, and the safety barricades along the roads.
We will establish environmental marshals to enforce compliance with our sanitation laws, including this ban, by arresting and prosecuting both the person who places the advert and the person and institution on whose behalf it is established.
Fellow-citizens, we also have reason to be concerned about nightclubs’ operations and socially harmful activities within residential areas of our State.
Apart from the noise and traffic nuisances suffered by innocent residents, no responsible government should continue to tolerate the open display and solicitation of sexual services, drug abuse and public intoxication that takes place along the streets and public areas abutting some of these nightclubs, lounges and bars by the youths, some, as young as under 14 years.
Consequently, the State Government has placed an immediate ban on all nightclub activities, including night-time trading and street prostitution along Abacha road and surrounding streets, to stop the harmful effect of these depraved activities on the moral development of our children and society at large.
Let me also reiterate that we are as overly concerned as the public over the black soot environmental disaster that has continued to envelop Port Harcourt and upset residents for quite some time.
As a State Government, we have drawn the attention of the Federal Government to this problem and requested for its intervention to stop the activities of illegal bunkering and artisanal crude oil refiners, which have been identified as the main sources of the soot pandemic.
Unfortunately, the Federal Government has remained inexplicably silent over our request and even complicit to a large extent with the security agencies actively aiding, encouraging and protecting the artisanal refiners to continue with their harmful activities unabated.
We have equally appealed without success to our people engaging in this illegal business to consider its adverse effects on our economy, environment, public safety and public health and disengage from it.
We will continue to engage and plead with the Federal Government to intervene and save our people from this serious environmental and health emergency.
However, since the federal security agencies have largely refused to stop the illegal crude oil refining activities in the State, we have no option but to take necessary measures to tackle this particular and direct challenge to our collective health and survival by ourselves.
Consequently, I have directed the Chairman of Port Harcourt City Local Government Council to go after all the illegal crude oil refining sites along Creek road and adjourning areas of the city and shut them down with immediate effect.
Furthermore, all Local Government Chairmen are directed to work with community leaders to locate and identify those behind all illegal bunkering and crude oil refining sites in their localities and report to my office for further action.
Once again, we express our sympathies to the victims of the recent fire incidences in the State, especially those who lost loved ones and valuable property.
As a government, we will continue to do our best to strengthen the State Fire Service to effectively intervene during fire incidents.
However, members of the public also have the responsibility to do the right thing to prevent or avoid some of these fire incidents from happening, and those who deliberately bury fuel and gas tanks in residential areas are certainly not doing the right thing and should therefore relocate their precarious businesses to more convenient and less risky places.