PORT HARCOURT: The Garden City of Culture and Technology – Professor Emeritus E J Alagoa OON, NNOM, dssrs
Port Harcourt was conceived by the British colonial rulers in 1913 as a central building block of their emerging Nigeria project. The old Township, Harbour, Railway Station, Market, Commercial District and old Government Residential Area (GRA), were position alongside the Waterside and surrounding rural communities to create a unique melting pot of cultures of Nigeria, and indeed, West Africa.
Port Harcourt was recognized as a city of excellence in appropriate technology to serve the needs of a dynamic multi-cultural community.
Up to about 1950, the Saro (the Sierra Leoneans) were the leading lights in education, politics, and culture. The Igbo took over leadership in politics to lose their grip on the failed Biafra venture.
The basic distinction of the old Port Harcourt Township lay in the simple structure of regular city blocks with a central thread of gardens, trees, parks and playgrounds, with incinerators to consume trash from homes in the neighbourhood. Each house had a small front garden. The streets were well lit, and the gutters were deep and generally clean.
Port Harcourt city responded to all the changes in the economy of the nation and of the Niger Delta, from palm oil and kernels to crude oil and gas, and from the abandonment of the Railway System to reliance on air and road transport with their Airports and Motor Parks.
Change and decay have overtaken the some of the most vibrant aspects of Port Harcourt life and progress. Even the strides made as recently as the 1970s, by the first indigenous government of Rivers State have been overtaken by neglect.
It is good to receive notice that the youth plan to take up the challenge to move the city forward through rebirth of culture and technology. We the elders applaud you and pledge our support.