Port Harcourt: Rumuchorlu, Rich But Poor Community
WITH the largest market in the East of the Niger, and host community to many oil companies, the people of Rumuchorlu in Rumuokwurusi, Port Harcourt, Rivers State should ordinarily be living above average. Unfortunately, the reverse is the case due to many reasons.
For example, the Oil Mill Market which was built by the people of the community many decades ago, has remained a shadow of itself. By now, it ought to have been built to international standards.
Surprisingly, the local government officials just come to take revenue from the traders. The people of the community are also worried that part of their land which was acquired by the government for public purposes is now being used for other purposes.
Considering the situation, the people of Rumuchorlu recently staged a protest against misuse of their land by some government officials and the poor level of development of the town.
His Royal Highness, Eze Bennette Worgu of Rumuchorlu community recalled that in 1972, the Rivers State government acquired about 10 hectares of the community’s land without compensation. Yet, the land was never used for the agricultural purpose that it was acquired for.
“The state government gave it to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and nothing has been done to use the place for agriculture. That is the painful aspect of it. What you have there now on our land are make-shift shops, mosques, churches etc.
“The land should revert back to my family. The government has failed us. They did not utilize the place for the purpose it was meant for. Part of the land is now inhabited by criminals,” Eze Worgu said.
He added that the demonstration was also meant to bring the attention of the government and Shell to the fact Rumuchorlu people should benefit from the employment of people to Rumuokwurusi Community hospital.
“The hospital was built by the government. Eventually, the government made arrangement with Shell to now run it on behalf of the people. Then we discovered that we were left out of the scheme in the area of employment and other things.”
Eze Worgu regretted the poor state of Oil Mill Market which was established with a lot of input by the people of the community.
He also called the attention of the government to the pitiable situation of the road around Elelenwo and wants the government to do something about it.
“We don’t have electricity supply, pipe borne water and refuse disposal facilities. We are paying electricity bills for nothing,” he lamented.
A member of the Rivers State Board of Internal Revenue and a leader in the community, Nelson Weli, recalled that the Oil Mill Market was intended to be a market to raise funds to develop the infrastructural facilities in the community.
“It commenced that way and so much was realized initially from the resources from the market and contributions from Rumuokwurusi indigenes. We were able to build a secondary school called Rumuokwurusi Community Secondary School.
“Although the government did not build the market, in recent times, they started sharing revenue from the market. What we are saying is that since the government is already participating in taking revenue from the market, we want the government to help us to build the market to international standard,” Weli said.
He regretted that the market which is near a stream, has been completely blocked by refuse. “We want the Rivers State government through the Ministry of Environment to clean up the stream.”
He said that the government should partner with the Rumuchorlu community to develop the market. “We have a great share there. If the market can be developed more revenue will accrue to the town, the government and even the marketers.”
On his part, Chairman of Rumuokwurusi Town Council, Enwuzuruike Collins Chima, said basically the town council is for the development of the town and the people.
“Even it is the town council that repaired some of the bad roads in partnership with some of the companies in our place. The government has not done much in our place as it concerns roads. It should help us to fix the bad roads. Government’s presence in our place is nothing to write home about. The incumbent governor promised us that he will see what he can do to make the road motorable during his campaign,” Chima bemoaned.
He regretted that Obio/Akpor Local Council has not done much for the community. “We have no local council presence here. The law permits them to collect money in our market. They only come to our market to collect money without helping the people in the community.
“It is a rich local council but the people have nothing to show for it. I think the new administration of the council should carry the people along to develop the community. They should work with the people who know what the problems are and how to solve them. If you go to our market, the roofing sheets of the sheds are bad. That market ought to be well-lit at night.”
The new Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Council, Chimenem Weli promised to find out what the people of the council actually want him to do to develop the area.
“By the end of this month, we will start going from ward to ward to know what the people want. My manifesto was based on empowerment of the youths. We promised to support those in higher institutions by giving them bursaries, giving scholarships to the youths. And also creating job opportunities for them and good healthcare for our mothers,” Weli said.
He pledged to have a town hall meeting with the people of the community to iron out all the burning issues. “The Oil Mill Market is due for reconstruction. Although it is in Obio/Akpor Local Council, we don’t have total claim of it. We will do our part and we expect the state government to also come and help us.”