Sunday, June 11

The Problem With Onitsha

By Chimdi Asika 

Onitsha has just one problem. Just one: It is an urban area given the treatment of a rural settlement

A city almost same size the population of Jamaica does not have an administrative unit than the mandatory but moribund local government councils. 

A city of over two million people has fewer waste management companies as a sparsely populated village in Ireland. 

One of the most densely populated cities in Africa has no dual carriage roads. Even Orlu and Auchi boasts having wider roads than Onitsha. 

With a streaming population of people wanting to have a nice time, Onitsha just has one recreational center — the Shoprite Mall — , two standard hotels — Soprom and Dolly Hills — and a litter of beer parlours. I wonder where children go to have a time out. 

A city that claims to be an economic hub that can only boast of only three economic streams: buying-and-selling, road transportation and petty production. 

A big city of opportunities without a university. I doubt any African city suffers as much brain drain as Onitsha. After a young adult leaves Onitsha for the university outside the city, how do you expect them to come back. And do what? And connect with whom? 

The opportunities in Onitsha tend to be for rural migrants. You barely have someone migrate from an urban settlement to Onitsha unless they are coming back for retirement. 

The rural-urban migration trend in Onitsha is even a major reason for insecurity. Someone moves from their village to Onitsha with the hope of picking money on the floor because all their trader relatives that come back during Christmas come back loaded. “There must be something in Onitsha that will fetch me money” and he sets out to Onitsha and wanders about for weeks and finds out that he must “hustle it out” either way. And he does hustle it out either way. And voila, Onitsha holds the opportunity for thieves. 

Onitsha needs only one solution — diversification. With more problems come more opportunities: 

Imagine having more waste management companies. More jobs have been created and a cleaner city can be achieved. 

Imagine setting up more corporate solutions firms like advertising agencies to give traders a platform to expose their market. With more and more corporate offices coming through, we could retain our brightest brains and have more of an urban-urban migration than a rural-urban migration.

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