Port Harcourt City was established in 1912. And it was the pride of the colonial masters in the East of the Niger. The city of Port Harcourt has natural harbour that makes movement of ships easy to land. The white men admired the coastal city of Port Harcourt so much that the presence of mosquitoes seen to be a threat to white people was rebuffed by them. The old Port Harcourt and some parts of Old GRA were occupied permanently by white men.
Indeed, after independence of Nigeria, some remained behind to continue their livelihood in Port Harcourt. It is worthy to note that the cleanliness of the city started with the white people who established and named it the way it is today. The cleanliness of the city continued till late 90’s.
It was as result of tidiness and cleanliness of Port Harcourt that the city was known and called Garden City. In the 80’s and 90’s the radiance of Port Harcourt was felt everywhere in Nigeria. People from far and near come to see the aesthetic and beautiful landscape of the revered Garden City. The city was the pride of Rivers people based on it cleanliness and spirit of hospitality of it citizens.
The Garden City of Rivers State began to depreciate from year 2000 down the line. Indeed, in the past the beauty and peaceful life style in Port Harcourt cannot be contested by anyone. The downward trend of decay of the city is worrisome to those who live in Port Harcourt in the past.
The Buhari/Diagbon Military regime brought sanity and sanctity to state of things in Port Harcourt. The war against indiscipline was alone instilled fear in the minds of the people. Urinating or defecating on the wall of fences and street was a very grievous offence by then. The strong policy of the administration imparted positively on social behaviors of people in the country.
Today monthly sanitation exercise that has come to stay is treated with levity. Every Thursday sanitation exercise by traders in Port Harcourt is not yielding substantial result, as some do not partake. And the attitudes of some traders in the various markets not also contribute to hygiene and sanitation condition as they dispose refuse into drainage and by the side of the road. The market places in Port Harcourt are filthy because of non-compliance of sanitation laws of the state.
Worst still the sanitation or health officers on duty only go to fill their pockets and forget implementation of sanitation laws and prosecution of offenders. The city today is tactically called garbage city because of residents’ nonchalant attitude to good sanitation. Some road side canteens used tarred as their refuse bins where they pour dirty water debris and all sort of despicable particles. This negative attitude to conducive environment must be stopped in Port Harcourt.
The Rivers State Government is spending good reasonable millions of naira for the evacuation of refuge in the city. Many have criticized Government of not doing enough in terms of evacuation of wastes from the street of Port Harcourt. It is also true that many residents of the city do not support the efforts of government in keeping Port Harcourt clean. Many residents live contrary to sanitation laws of the state.
On a serious note Port Harcourt must regain her pride of place in Nigeria. Therefore, every Port Harcourt resident must imbibe the spirit of cleanliness in keeping their surrounding clean.
Mr. Ade Ogun the sole administrator of Rivers State sanitation authority is out with ground breaking strategies to keep Port Harcourt clean. But the question is, will the people remain adamant and make policy to die? The effort of Rivers State government through the sanitation authority should not be sabotaged if Port Harcourt must come back to retain her status.
It is true that the sanitation authority has formulated policies and modalities to apprehend and prosecute defaulters who litter the streets and roads of Port Harcourt with garbage. Those on the enforcement team should not be people of questionable character.
And there is need for aggressive orientation on how to keep Port Harcourt clean in the various neighbourhood across the state. More so, defaulters should be prosecuted to serve as deterrent to intending defaulter. All hands must be on deck to keep Port Harcourt clean. Again, residents should desist from pouring or throwing garbage on a moving bus or taxi on the road.
And waste must be taken to dump site for disposal at the approved time, 6:00pm-12:00am. ###
Frank Eneawaji Ogwuonuonu