His Excellency Sir,
While I commend your efforts in trying to restore sanity and also restore the garden city status of Port Harcourt and it’s environs by getting rid of some of the activities that has defaced our once beautiful city such as street trading, illegal markets and motor parks with the setting up of a special task force, permit me to make some observations and inputs while also hoping that this move will not end up creating further problem for the existing one
I make this observations as a concerned citizen of Rivers State and from my experience from many years of following up on the activities of similar task force (s) by successive governments and the outcome therefrom viz-a-viz the fact that people are hungry and must look for a means to feed and also provide for their families
On the other hand, while not supporting the activities of those involved in street trading, illegal markets and motor parks, permit me to also draw our attention to what l think might have contributed to the involvement of some of our citizens and residents in these activities with a view to providing alternatives or options for change in tackling the menace while hoping that His Excellency will use his good office and abundant goodwill in doing the needful for a better Rivers State
His Excellency Sir, it is no longer news that Rivers people and indeed Nigerians are presently living in very difficult times in view of the harsh economic situation brought about by high unemployment rate, unfavorable business environment occasioned by inadequate infrastructure, insecurity and the resultant excruciating poverty in the land
lt is only natural that as humans, the instinct to continue to survive will drive many into certain activities and while that is not an excuse in itself in anyway, it is a reality and a major contributing factor to the problem at hand
May we be informed, lest we forget and also be reminded as we move forward, that there is a very strong link between poverty, crime and insecurity
It is equally important for the government to critically examine those factors that can trigger conflicts as a fallout from this policy of dislodging those involved in street trading, illegal markets and motor parks and endeavor to put in place a component to address whatever conflict that might arise from the current move to avoid creating a crisis situation, considering the prevailing economic circumstances of the present day
I quite understand that the government at all times must continue to provide governance and must do what it considers appropriate when faced with any situation, l also think that in doing so, the government as a matter of responsibility must place priority on the welfare and security of the people in policy formation and implementation
Moving forward, l want to believe that the government did a thorough analysis of the situation at hand before arriving at the decision taken and that in the process, certain recommendations must have been arrived at to also provide some alternatives and succour to cushion the effect of those who out of frustration happen to have found themselves engaging in those activities
As a way forward, l have a few concerns which l think should have preceeded the process leading up to the setting up of the task force as major first steps and would humbly submit:
- Is there a statistics of the number of people involved in these activities in the various “zones” around the state as mapped out?
- Apart from the newly built Rumuokoro market as referenced by His Excellency, are there newly built markets and motor parks in all the other “zones” mainly for the relocation of those involved in these activities?
- What are the plans already put in place to provide an alternative means of sustenance for those involved in street trading, illegal markets and motor parks since it is obvious that the government doesn’t want such activities to be a part of our society?
- What concrete plans are in place towards ensuring that more people do not consider going into these activities in the nearest future?
- What are the mechanisms deployed to ensure that members of this task force doesn’t seize this opportunity to cause further havoc by creating chaos which can heighten insecurity in their operational “zones?”
This is just my one kobo