The Cross River State Government is planning to demolish shanties along the waterways in Calabar to control flood and other environmental hazards in the city.
The state Commissioner for the Environment, Michael Iraye, made this known to the News Agency of Nigeria in Calabar on Wednesday.
The commissioner went round on sensitisation and inspection of major water channels in the city.
Iraye said the state government regulated the activities of developers on where to build and the kind of houses to be built.
He said: “The regulatory power, which lies with the Ministry of Lands, was challenged by residents; some out of sheer wickedness, while others out of ignorance as you can see with the growth of shanties in Calabar.
“Just last week, we spent three days here supervising the cleaning of this water channel but you can see the new set of waste in it.
“We are going to start tackling the problem from the source by removing all illegal structures along our water channels or roadside.
“We are collaborating with the Ministry of Lands and the Development Control Unit put in place by the governor in tackling this problem.
“These shanties also affect the aesthetics of the town.
“Cross River is a tourist state.
“Many states do not pay attention to the things we pay attention to.
“So, our architecture should be attractive.
“We have invested so much in public education and it is continuous.
“Last week, media organisations came here and today, you are here as part of our efforts on public sensitisation.”
According to the commissioner, extortionists are going round collecting money from people and authorising them to build along waterways,
Iraye said: “I have a few cases I am handling now and those affected will be brought to book.
“This is why I came out with officials of Town Planning as directed by the Commissioner of Lands so that they can see for themselves as they have the mandate to regulate the activities of developers.
“The Town Planning authorities have undertaken to serve these people appropriate legal notices as mandated by law.
“We also utilise the privilege of this special contact with the press to advise all those who like to settle and do business in unauthorised areas to desist henceforth.
“Government does not have the resources to police every square metre of the drains in this town.
“So, we advice members of the public to clear the drains in front of their houses and desist from dropping any form of waste in the drains.”
The commissioner said there were eight markets in Calabar, noting that there were waste collection centres at a walking distance from most homes around the city.
“Those who insist in setting up markets everywhere should take advantage of the existing markets,” he said.
Iraye, however, called on local government councils to create more markets.
NAN reports that most parts of Calabar had witnessed flooding in the last few weeks due to blocked drains as the rain continued.