In the Greater Port Harcourt let us prove to the world that we have moved up a notch on the ladder of human evolution. Let us have covered drains, in each plot of land for residential or industrial use, let us have space for trees and flowers, let us have open space for outdoor family and friends activity like barbecue, table tennis and the like requiring small space.
Years ago in London I told my host that I saw an uncovered drain some were in West Hamstead. She almost shouted, "Where!?" There was abundant disbelief in that word. It came out with a deep-seated feeling that it couldnít be true. My host had lived in London then for at least 2 years and I had not been there for more than 3 days. She had not seen an open drain any where and I had found one? No. I did not find any. I wanted information on open drains in London. I could not have got my information in a more dramatic way. Open drains belong to pre-history. I did not find them in Antwerp or Brussels, in Rotterdam or Amsterdam. Amsterdam was reputed to be very dirty but there were no open drains. I did not find open drains in Houston Texas. We should not have open drains in the Greater Port Harcourt.
There is a house on Moore House Street in Colonial Port Harcourt where there is no open drain. Waste water from the kitchen and bathroom go through underground pipes into a soak away or the common drain by the road. Thatís how it should be everywhere in Greater Port Harcourt.
Space for trees and flowers on the individual plots of land contribute to good living. A house is not a home. The difference is in the happiness that is in the home which is not available in a mere house. It is easy to observe that not a lot of people have respect for flowers and trees. When we were little boys in primary school we were taught not to "cross the green". Today I see young people sit on flowers and adults park their cars with a wheel or two on flowers.I have seen people laugh at others for sparing time to tend flowers. Trees I have seen cut down foolishly. The rule is, if you must cut down a tree plant two. Greater Port Harcourt must inculcate in the Nigerian Citizen a healthy respect for flowers and trees, not just in parks which have been promised but right on our premises. We should enjoy the fragrance, the beauty of flower and the shade or fruits provided by trees. We should live healthier lives by breathing the oxygen produced in plant photosynthesis while the atmosphere is rid of carbon dioxide by the plants in the same process of making their food.
Space for play right in the premises of the home is very important. Space for simple games and exercises is good for your health. Such space provide for healthy interaction among persons living in the house. How many times have you wished there was space on your premises to roast by yourself corn and
ube or fish and yam or plantain and enjoy, not only the eating but also the roasting process? This done with your wife and children fosters healthy living. Space enough in individual homes should eliminate road blocking for parties and funerals and weddings.
When every body is in his own pigeon hole in the sort of houses we find at present in the old Port Harcourt no physical exercise is possible. The living room so called is in many cases too small for any worthwhile games.
It is a common sight in Colonial Port Harcourt, young people playing make shift table tennis or a form of billiards or pool beside their house and next to the road. It may not be possible to create G.R.A-like neighbourhoods everywhere in Greater Port Harcourt. In the low income areas the facilities mentioned above can be provided in a form of collective. Open space in the middle of the neighbourhood, houses on the periphery with specified small open space by each unit of housing plot for trees and flowers and for family and friends activities. Meanwhile the large open space in the middle of the neighbourhood should be tree-lined on all four sides or right round, if circular. It should take a football pitch. There is an example in Surulere Lagos where NNPC had a middle income guest house in 1990/91. Letís find out.
The Greater Port Harcourt should blend the hustle and bustle of city life with the salutary effect of nature.Writing of the people and the city of London Washington Irving says "On Sunday afternoon the city (London) poors forth its legions to breathe the fresh air and enjoy the sunshine of the parks and rural environs . . .there is something delightful in beholding the poor prisoner of the crowded and dusty city enabled thus to come forth once a week and throw himself upon the green bosom of Nature. He is like a child restored to the motherís breast, and they who first spread out these noble parks and magnificent pleasure-grounds which surround this huge metropolis have done at least as much for its health and morality as if they had expended the amount of cost in hospitals, prisons, and penitentiaries."
What has been listed here as desirable in the Greater Port Harcourt should be additional to the wide roads, street lights, efficient power and water supply, schools, hospitals, malls, parks and general play grounds already promised.
Healthy living breeds healthy citizens and reduces crime rate; it ushers in peace an well being. Nigerians deserve no less.
Bapakaye I. Dibi, Esq.