By Ike Uchechukwu
CALABAR- MANAGING Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, Ms. Hadiza Usman, has expressed concern over the illegal settling of communities near its facilities in Cross River State, saying that it exposes the inhabitants to danger.
However, some of the villagers told NDV that they have lived in the area for more than 100 years, asking where government wanted to relocate them to.
Usman told NDV that the Authority had notified the state governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, of the need to disallow any form of illegal settlement close to the facility.
Recently, fire engulfed the Esuk Utan fishing settlement, located at the waterfront, near the Calabar Free Zone Enterprise, claiming at least 11 lives with several others injured.
Ban illegal settlements
Usman said NPA had urged the Cross River State Government to, as a matter of urgency and safety of human lives, proscribe any form of illegal settlement close to its facility.
“We have raised our concerns regarding illegal settlement around Port locations and His Excellency, Prof. Ben Ayade has promised to create restraint towards such settlement, we have noted that there is need to stop such development in the area.
“There are some locations that are actually illegal settlements and the state government needs to work extensively in a bid to relocate such settlements and their inhabitants for their own good and safety,” she said.
Some of the villagers, however, told NDV that they have been living in the area for more than 100 years.
A community leader, Chief Effiom Asuquo said: “We have no place to go to, we are fishermen here that is the only occupation we have, so anyone with such initiative should have it in mind that we cannot live on land without fishing. That is the only thing we know how to do.”
A concerned resident, Mr. Martins Henshaw asserted: “They should do the needful before any other thing, we are poor fishermen and we live from fishing in water, so where on earth can they possibly relocate us to? We want them to do the right thing and leave us alone, we have lived here for years, our stay is not illegal, and we are not illegal settlers.”
NDV gathered that the Calabar Free Zone Enterprise in Esuk Utan community is host to several tank farms belonging to different companies, which is part of the NPA location.