EKO ATLANTIC CITY: HOW FEASIBLE?
By Yemi Olakitan
The proposed Eko Atlantic City has had everyone babbling or talking since the Lagos State Government announced its plan to transform the Bar Beach areas into a mighty city within Lagos state. The huballoo created by the project is to be expected, judging from the experiences of residents along the Bar beach vicinity who have suffered persistent ocean surge along the Bar Beach coastal areas until the former state Governor; Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu brought succour to the people by building a lengthy dam that permanently ended the relentless Ocean surges.
Many are excited about the Eko Atlantic City project. Some are sceptical. While some people have lauded the plan as a good step in the right direction, others have criticised it and looked at it like a white elephant project that might not be attainable. Some have even described the project as a possible gateway to disaster such as the much publicised tsunamis and hurricane Rita of the United States. No matter how experts have tried to explain the enourmous benefits of the project, some are still fearful, doubtful or disapproving.
The sheer magnitude of this project has left many people in wonderment. Some commentators have even said that government would soon abandon the idea.
The City is among other things, expected to have residential structures, first Class hotels, restaurants, architectural edifices that might serve as tourists’ destinations for the rest of the world. It is expected to boast of numerous commercial, financial and holliday havens; making the city a hot cake for the property and investment market in the country. This is however, the 21 st Century and Nigeria is catching up fast with the rest of the world, so there is every possibility that the project is attainable like the Tunapa project of Governor Donald Duke.
In a chat with news men on the various concerns of critics and commentators; Lagos state Commissioner for Lagos State Water Front and infrastructural Development, Prince Adesegun Oniru gave assurance that there would be no negative environmental effects as a result of the project. He said; all scientific calculations and investigations have already been concluded. The commissioner said the state Government has also worked on the Environmental Impact Assessment, (EIA) because of the size of the project. The Commissioner hinted that the Eko Atlantic City will be as big as the present day Victoria Island. Speaking further on the project; the commissioner said the city is targeting 250,000 residents and 200,000 commuters flowing to the island on a daily basis for work or relaxation. The commissioner said, if such cities can be built on deserts and seas in other parts of the world, it is possible to achieve the same in Nigeria.
The benefits of the projects are innumerable to mention. One is the creation of thousands of jobs for Lagosians and Nigerians as a whole. The City when completed will also attract businessmen and tourists. It will bring investment to Lagos state and create opportunities for the citizens. The Lagos beaches are presently being used for criminal activities; prostitutes, miscreants, pickpockets and the likes have made the beaches their dwelling place. A project such as this will eradicate its present status and turn our shores into a place of recreational beauty, promoting business and noble objectives.
Another question on everyone’s lips is how the state Government will fund such a big project? Is the Lagos State Government counting on the federal Government to fund this ambitious project? The face off between the Federal Government under the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the former Governor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on the local government fund is still fresh in memory.
The Lagos state Government however said the project will be financed entirely by private initiative.
Eko Atlantic City will be sponsored and promoted by the Chagoury Group. The Chagoury group is the leading Construction and Property Company in West Africa. The group is heavily involved in dredging, land reclamations and infrastructural developments. It is the owner of the biggest Hotel in the state; Eko Hotel and suites and has experienced architectural, building and construction Engineers and Scientists, who are well trained on such projects. The Chagoury Group are not new to such projects, currently, the group are reported to be involved in the development of two major projects; Banana Island in Ikoyi which is a residential complex on reclaimed land of approximately 1.8 million square meters and Eko Akete, an infrastructural development of approximately 400 hectares and 30 km from Victoria Island. The Chagoury Group seems to have the right credentials and experience for the enourmous Eko Atlantic City project.
On the modus operandi, Honourable Commissioner for Lagos State Water Front and infrastructural Development, Prince Adesegun Oniru said, the sand on the beach will be taken back to where it was formerly in the 50s and 60s about 5km back into the ocean. The commissioner said as soon as the land is reclaimed both foreign and local investors will be invited for allocation. He added that the investors will be given a deadline to develop their land because failure to do so within a given timeframe will lead to forfeiture of the allocated land. The project, as reported, will be carried out in phases. Structures on the land will be available in the next five to seven years as planned by the state government and its private developer.
Media reports said the design of the Eko Atlantic City includes protective breakwaters on its outer perimeter to provide shelter from the oceans waves. According to the Chagoury Group, the breakwater will be designed as a submerged and immerged wall utilizing advanced X-blocs which are enourmous X shaped concrete blocks designed to dissipate energy from the waves. The land itself will be reclaimed through a sand filling, concrete and rocks filling that will create a strong foundation for the structures that will be put in place.
Eko Atlantic City, instead of being a potential disaster as many thought, will keep the Bar Beach Ocean surge permanently eradicated and turns the beach into a paradise city. On this note, The Lagos state Governor, Babatunde Fashola has began promoting his new dream for Lagos state. The state Governor was reportedly present at “This Day Special international Summit’ which was held in New York, USA. The Governor led the drive for investors’ participation in the Lagos of his dream at the summit which was titled: Nigeria Meets the World: Turning Challenges into Opportunities. Reports say, the issue of the Lagos Mega City project was discussed and investors were encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity.
Eko Atlantic City is part of a bigger project; the Lagos state Mega city Project. Part of which is the development of Badagry and the creation of a link between it and the rest of the state. This will include a modern transportation system. The Mega city Project also includes the provision of infrastructure, mass housing, creation of employment and tourism as well as the creation of Eko Atlantic City.
In the final analysis, great economies are been run today through private participation and involvement. The state and the Federal government do not have all the resources nor the expertise to transform a developing economy into what it should be or what it can become. They may have the idea and the concepts. It is only through the involvement of the private sector that goals and visions can be achieved and fully realised. A government that claim a monopoly of knowledge and resources can not do well in the new generation of advanced economy and development. By involving private investment it is most feasible that the Lagos state Government will achieve its lofty objectives of transforming Lagos state into and haven of business opportunities and tourism.