The city of Port Harcourt, “Pitakwa” as it is fondly called, is the capital and largest city in Rivers State, Nigeria. It is also the fifth-largest city in the country after Lagos, Kano, Ibadan, and Benin with an estimated population of two million (2,000,000) people.
Since the days of the first Governor of the state, Dr. Melford Okilo, an important challenge faced by successive administrations in the state has been maintaining the housing plan in the city amid a rising population.
Residents of macro-areas like Diobu and Rumuigbo are exposed to severe health challenges arising from the illegal location of houses, wrongly erected houses and improper drainage systems. Lands were also being sold without due consultation with authorities and houses built over drainage systems thus leading to increased flood and poor waste management.
To this end, different bodies have been set up to ensure proper citing of buildings and strict compliance to the city’s master plan to avoid unusual clusters, while maintaining the status of Port Harcourt as the nation’s Garden City.
In 1985, the Rivers State Housing and Property Development Authority (RSHPDA) was established by the then government of Melford Okilo as a state government parastatal tasked with the responsibility of planning and developing housing units for residential and industrial purposes. Housing estates such as the Presidential housing estate, Rumuibekwe, Elekahia, and Iriebe housing estates, amongst others were to be supervised and regulated by the establishment.
Transportation in the fast-growing city has also been heavily affected as a result of poor housing plans that are largely disorderly, with pedestrian walks mostly now utilized for building shops thereby, reducing the spaces on the road for cars and increasing traffic.
The last administration started the greater port Harcourt city development project to decongest the main city and return the state to its Garden City status, with the establishment of key anchors of the new metro area including the Port Harcourt International Airport and Port of Onne to increase water-borne sewage, public transport system, stormwater management & disposal system, industrial areas and more.
However, Since the inception of the new administration, the dream of the new Greater Port harcourt City has remained a dream.