Port Harcourt Master Plan

What is affected
Housing private
Type of violation Forced eviction
Date 01 June 2008
Region AFA [ Africa anglophone ]
Country Nigeria
Location Port Harcourt, Rivers State

Affected persons

Total 325000
Men 0
Women 0
Children 0
Proposed solution
Details NIG-OL-120109-1.pdf


Forced eviction
Housing losses
- Number of homes 500
- Total value €

Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)

Brief narrative

Rivers State is renowned for its natural resources, including oil and gas, which have attracted considerable international investment, extraction and, consequently, have attracted the influx of over five million workers to the state. Port Harcourt, the only city in the state, is host to upwards of 3.3 million people, 1.5 million of whom live in informal settlements referred to as the waterfronts.

The waterfronts are mostly owned by the Okrikans, but occuped by a multi-ethnic population, primarily people from other parts of the Niger Delta, who are either home owners or rent-paying tenants. The high cost of inner-city rentals and urban housing deficits has forced many of the estimate 200,000 waterfronts population into the impoverished structures and created a large underprivileged class in Port Harcourt.

The intended evictions are part of a 50 billion Naira (€223,860,000) government plan to create a new Port Harcourt. According to Governor Amaechi, To this end, the government will establish a Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority charged with the responsibility of implementing the master plan. We have set aside N50 billion this year to fund the project. Let me assure you all, that at the end of this exercise, we will have a world class city that will be clean, green, orderly and a delight for us to live in. However, corporate interests in the waterfronts have raised suspicions about the motives for the government’s forced-eviction drive.

Specifically, Silverbird Properties, a real estate conglomerate, is expected to build an entertainment complex on lands on which the waterfront communities currently reside. In June 2008, the government of Rivers State, through the State Commissioner of Urban Development, began issuing notices to landlords throughout the entire Port Harcourt waterfront of the decision to acquire and demolish all buildings in the area. Despite a government promise to relocate and compensate victims, no such arrangement yet exists for them. The Abonnema Wharf and Njemanze waterfronts—both home to over 70,000 persons comprised of both indigenous residents and migrants—are scheduled for immediate demolition. The evictions already have been extensive.

Between June and October 2008, Rivers State officials destroyed numerous buildings and made 200,000 people homeless in Port Harcourt. In December 2008, the state government has rendered approximately 125,000 homeless people with evictions on just four major streets in Port Harcourt: Bonny Street, Creek Road, Gambia Lane and Anyama Street. Most recently, the state government has planned the eviction of parts of the Port Harcourt main-city, affecting approximately 150,000 people, to make way for a “Silverbird Showtime” cinema. The government has deployed police and army to intimidate tenants, in addition to procuring a large amount of bulldozers for the demolition campaign that is now expected to affect 40% of Port Harcourt population. According to reports, the evictions and demolitions are part of a long-term government attempt to merge the waterfront areas with the city proper.

The first of such attempts took place in 1984, when the waterfronts of Ndoki, Aggrey and Abuja were upgraded into standard housing units. However, unlike recent attempts, these historical initiatives saw the inhabitants relocated back into the area after the upgrading, and most became apartment owners in the process. The success and sustainability of that earlier project relied on the tenants’ trust in the government, due to the transparency of the process. Apparently, the current process is anything but fair or transparent, however, and now constitutes a recipe for dissent and plummeting government legitimacy. The lack of government relocation has put a considerable strain on victims who are both unable to afford the soaring rents and whose livelihoods remain dependent on employment near their homes.

According to NUTN, public authorities have abandoned affected persons to seek alternative housing in other locations at the cost of their employment, their children’s education and the physical, mental and economic health of their families.

Costs €   0