Editorial

Destroying livelihoods with urban renewal

The on-going urban renewal has gory human side-effects that are far too horrendous to mention. One can call it atrocious without being wide off the mark. It has ruined many lives so far. The attendant suffering is inexcusable, just as it is unnecessary.
However, let’s make clear that renewal is a welcome thing any day, any time. It is a wonderful initiative only a person in the mould of the present governor can undertake. This is provided it is not done to the exclusion of other areas where tax payers live. The principle of even and equitable distribution of amenities makes the concentration of renewal activities in the urban areas thoughtless and improper. It is unfair to the remote, outlying areas and their inhabitants, the hinterland.
People should not be denied amenities because they do not live in the cities or urban areas. The huge amounts gulped by our urban renewal, questions the government’s sense of priority. As many link-roads to rural communities cry for attention, it commits scarce resources to renewal of urban structures that have for years taken the lion share of the budget. Please, there is no justice in this.
This is only one side of the coin. We are more worried about the hapless people who have been crushed under the urban renewal policy.
When the demolitions began and the bulldozers went on rampage, no one knew the environmental impact would lead to so much devastation. The scale of damage in the exercise calls for an apology from the government.
From what we are seeing, the damages from our urban renewal will in the end far outweigh the gains. Tears have not ceased flowing in sectors where the project has taken its highest toll. It affects everybody. But the most affected, unfortunately, are the poorest of our poor. What have they done to deserve their fate? Let some one explain to us the motive in imposing so much suffering in the name of urban renewal. It doesn’t quite add up.
We don’t therefore hesitate to call for the urban renewal demolitions and all its other activities to be halted. The project has created a dangerous dislocation. Housing, for instance, is in very short supply now as many people now have no shelter over their heads, at the threshold of the wet season. Worse still, livelihoods have been wiped away for millions of our people. These people require urgent humanitarian assistance. Governments as well as non-government sectors must feel the obligation to come to the rescue. Traumatized and starving people are legion now, made so by the urban renewal going on in our dear state. Save our soul.

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