Determined to improve the aesthetics of Port Harcourt and its environs, the Rivers State Signage and Advertising Agency (RISAA) has reaffirmed its commitment to leave no stone unturned towards beautifying the city through outdoor advertising.
Consequently, the agency on Wednesday began massive impoundment of billboards that were not erected in line with the approved guidelines of the agency.
The exercise, according to the Acting Managing Director of the agency, Chief Anthony Okeah, is aimed at ridding the city of illegal billboards, including those that deface the city as a result of non-maintenance.
Speaking while leading the Monitoring and Enforcement team of the agency including journalists on the exercise last Wednesday, Okeah said the removing of the billboards would pave way to appreciate the beauty of Port Harcourt, while emphasizing that only those qualified and registered with the agency would be allowed to embark on outdoor advertising business in the State.
“I must say that outdoor advertising is not an all-comers business but RISAA as an agency is there to ensure that whoever that is coming into the business is coming with clean hands. It's just like the precept of equity would say that whatever you want to do, do it properly for all eyes to see.
“What we are trying to do is without malice, to ensure decency by sanitizing the state against certain illegal and unpermitted practices in terms of outdoor advertisement business”, he said.
The RISAA Acting MD, who is also a legal practitioner, said the agency is open to members of the public to clarify any issues bothering on outdoor advertisement, adding that such persons would be adequately guided to ensure sanity in the system.
He emphasized that RISAA does not own billboards but that the law empowers the agency to seize and even impound properties of those who flout outdoor advertisement rules.
Okeah disclosed that the agency deals with three categories of clients namely first, second and third party practitioners, adding that RISAA had for some time now been sensitizing both our clients and members of the public through the media.
“The people we are actually facing now are the third party practitioners and they are the ones that own billboards and advertise for business owners. The first party practitioners are the banks, filling station and restaurant owners to mention but few. They pay yearly permit fees through our collectors' agents.
“The second party practitioners are the non- profit making organizations like churches and charity organizations. This category do no pay any money but pays stipulated fees to the third party practitioners to have their organization or programmes advertised”, he said.
The enforcement exercise commenced at Tombia Street in GRA, Port Harcourt where a rickety billboard apparently belonging to one of the popular Pentecostal churches in Port Harcourt was cut off and confiscated by the RISAA team as it hung dangerously on a PHED high tension cable.
The train then proceeded to the popular UTC Junction along Azikiwe Road where over ten disused billboards frames were brought down and confiscated. The action continued at the popular Garrison Junction, Rumuola amongst other places.
The RISAA boss, Okeah and the team later made a stopover at the CFC Junction where he inspected a project carried out by one of its third party clients for the beautification of the CFC flyover bridge panels.