The Lagos State Government is on an ambitious project. In partnership with South Energyx Nigeria Limited, it is planning an expansion of the state by reclaiming vast expanses of land from the Atlantic Ocean. Under the project, the state government intends to reclaim, between now and 2016, about nine million square metres of land 2.4 kilometres south of Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos. The new city will be called Eko Atlantic city. If completed, it would be one and a half times the size of current Victoria Island. It is estimated that it will accommodate 250,000 residents and 150,000 commuters.The project began in 2006 when the Bola Tinubu administration granted SENL the concession to reclaim and develop land for the city. Since then, the company has recorded a huge success, as more than 1.3 million square metres of land has already been reclaimed and is up for sale. This has convinced many Nigerians in general and Lagosians in particular of the viability of the project. Thus, many wealthy individuals and corporate bodies have bought plots of land ahead of its scheduled completion. And if you are a super-rich Nigerian, you can still get a plot of land in the new city. It will cost you a little over N200 million; a square metre costs between $825 and $1,600. LEADERSHIP WEEKEND gathered that the fee was denominated in dollars to protect buyers against fluctuations in the Naira’s exchange rate. The prime mover of the project, South Energyx Nigeria Limited (SENL), is a subsidiary of the Chagoury Group.
The city, when completed, will cover seven districts: Ocean Front, Harbour Lights, Business District, Eko Drive, Marina, Avenues and Downtown. The Business District will be spread across 1.3 million square metres of land dedicated to providing West Africa with a world-class commercial hub. Lying in the heart of the Business District would be the Eko Atlantic Financial Centre. The centre is expected to house corporate headquarters of banks, insurance companies and market leaders in the oil and gas sector. It will also have facilities for a stock exchange, convention centre, auditorium and hotels. Expectedly, commercial banks in Nigeria have signified their intention to provide financial support for the realisation of the project, as the Lagos State Government is not directly involved in providing funds. Four banks – three local and one international – are providing financial support. These are First Bank Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, First City Monument Bank Plc and BNP Paribas Fortis of France. Diya, Fatimilehin & Co, a firm of estate surveyors and valuers, is marketing the gigantic prime real estate business.
Marc Chaghouri of SENL told LEADERSHIP WEEKEND that the concept is to create a city of international standard: “The city will provide world-class property in a world-class environment, where people can live and work in harmony”. Indeed, those willing to cough out such a huge sum of money for a plot of land in the new city are expecting to be provided with world-class facilities. The city’s planners have incorporated round-the-clock independent power generation, central water supply and sewage disposal systems into the scheme.
With a global certificate of occupancy already given by the Lagos State Government, the developers have created a specialised planning unit to streamline an approval process and ensure quality of construction and integrity of each development.
There will be a light rail system with 60 stops throughout the city, and canals for light ferry services. And traffic flow: every building must have basement parking spaces for its occupants and visitors. “Eko Atlantic City will have zero tolerance for street parking,” Chaghouri said. A network of fibre optic cables will connect state-of-the-art telecommunications, while an internal citywide waterway will be linked to three marinas. And to prevent the incidence of building collapse, which is prevalent in most cities around the country, the developers are to create specialised planning and streamline an approval process to ensure the quality of construction and the integrity of each development.
To protect the new city against surges, SENL is building a sea barrier which it fondly refers to as the Great Wall of Lagos. The 6.5-kilometre-long wall was designed by Royal Haskoning and tested in Denmark by the world-renowned Danish Hydraulic Institute (DHI). Chaghouri said the result proved that it can withstand the worst storm imaginable in a thousand years. The Great Wall is already more than 1 kilometre long, LEADERSHIP WEEKEND saw when it visited the city recently. It learnt that the need to develop a new city was due to the growing population of the state, which is projected to hit 25 million by 2015, making Lagos the third largest city in the world. Due to this fact, Lagos real estate is among the most valued in the world.
The state government also believes the creation of the new city would reduce the problem of ocean surge on Victoria Island, as a shoreline protection plan has been activated resulting in a sea wall that runs along the entire length of the Bar Beach, holding back the ocean. Though the Lagos State Government is not directly providing finances for the project, it has not been spared flack from the opposition political party as the Peoples Democratic Party accused the state government of being elitist government. The PDP wonder how the majority of Lagosians have the financial means to own houses in the new city. “I have said it repeatedly that the Raji Fashola administration is an elitist government. Tell me how many people can afford to buy a plot of land in that area,” Wale Ah, publicity secretary of the PDP in Lagos, said.
The state government and the campaign handling the project have, however, remained undaunted in their bid, as they have vowed to deliver a world-class city with a 21st century concept.