For many years, Ikoyi and Victoria Island have remained the highbrow areas in Lagos state. The exclusive areas were first developed by the British colonialists in the 19th century and have since remained Nigeria’s business and financial centre.The head offices of banks, multinationals, oil and gas, and telecommunication companies in Nigeria are located there. The rich and the powerful in the society also have their residences in this best part of town.
Though Lekki peninsula was being touted as the area that will outclass Ikoyi and Victoria Island some years ago, that expectation has remained a wild dream. But now, things are about to change with the advent of a new city called Eko Atlantic city which will be built on the sea. With the ambitious project, Lagos state appears to be on the verge of outshining itself, the rest of Africa and the world.
Eko Atlantic! The name alone conjures up visions of exotic colorations and dreams of unique proportions.
The most ambitious project in recent times in real estate, Eko Atlantic city was conceived by the administration of the former governor of Lagos state, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) endeavour to regain beach ground lost to over 100 years of sea erosion and surges and build a modern city which Nigeria and Africa would experience for the very first time and be proud of.
That lofty ambition was carried aflame into the administration of the present governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, who, in partnership with South Energyx Limited, developers of the city, commissioned it in April 2008.
Eko Atlantic is projected to become the next generation of property in Africa that will combine residential, commercial, financial and touristic accommodations in a location serviced by state-of-the-art high-tech infrastructure.
The first phase of the project, which is dredging, construction of the sea wall and sand-filling, will take about six years. Experts say the project will cost at least $6 billion.
There will be about 91 million cubic metres of sand-filling to cover a total length of 6,500 metres with an average width of 1,260 metres. The second phase of the project is expected to last for two years. This phase will be first-class road works, construction of drainage systems and a dedicated power station to provide constant electricity. There will also be installation of a water supply system, a sewer network and treatment system as provided in developed cities around the world.
Already, a Chinese company, China Communication Construction Group (CCCG), has been contracted to do the dredging and marine works (sand reclamation).
Eko Atlantic city is expected to be at least 40 per cent larger than the existing Victoria Island. The city targets 250,000 residents, and 200,000 commuters flowing daily to the island to work. As concession holder and primary developer, Eko Atlantic city will be entitled to grant leasehold to any plot of land. It will then behold on the investor to construct whatever they wish on their plots of land according to guidelines established by Eko Atlantic Development. The group has developed Banana Island in Ikoyi, Lagos: a residential complex of reclaimed land of approximately 1.8 million m2.
Eko Atlantic will feature the most modern conveniences available anywhere in the world today. There will be first-class roads provided with ducts for surface water drainage. We shall also be providing high-quality portable water alongside an enviable sewage collection system which will have a duct network running throughout the city servicing the drainage system running into a sewage plant to be constructed at the eastern boundary, while every plot shall have a spot to connect pipes from the house or building that will link with the duct network.
“Fibre-optic cables will be buried to provide telephone and internet services. The city shall also have its own power plant to generate and distribute electricity 24 hours,” Mr David Frame, the Managing Director of South Energyx Nigeria Limited, told Alpha Beta Business magazine.
The walkway, Frame says, will, after completion, be the longest and possibly widest in the world. It shall run the course of the southern boundary, being about 7km long and 40 metres wide at the edge of the boundary that can serve as a place to just enjoy the ocean breeze, take a stroll, jog or generally relax.
According to Frame, the city will be the envy of all such cities in the world as the roads will all be dualised and there will be a waterway for waterborne access to the city, while there are advanced plans by the Lagos State Government to provide an eight-lane coastal road that will run the whole length of Ahmadu Bello Way and along the coastal boundary of Lagos state.
Other services to be provided include setting up an office where building applications and plans by title holders could be analysed, advised on and processed before being sent to the state government to ease developments. These shall involve filtering of planning applications, screen proposals, process documentations and help in obtaining the necessary titles.
The company will also undertake monitoring of ongoing works to ensure compliance with building regulations. Such regulations shall include the provision of ample parking space in finished developments for customers or visitors and to avoid situations where building machinery, equipment and materials are deposited on the roads thereby cluttering the streets and hindering smooth flow of traffic.
It sounds like tales out of the Arabian Nights, but it is true. However, one major deterrent the developer had to contend with was the issue of ocean surges. The Bar Beach ocean surge has been a recurring problem for Nigeria and Lagosians for decades. The surges were due to a change in the littoral drift, a current that runs along the length of West Africa, caused by the construction of breakwaters called east and west moles by the British to protect the mouth of the harbour and prevent sandbank formation.
But all these fears have been allayed with the construction of the shoreline protection works by Hitech Construction, South Energyx’s sister company.
“We conducted exhaustive analysis and assessments on the likely impact of the reclamation before embarking on this project. What we’re basically doing is reclaiming lost land which will have the beneficial effect of enhancing the shoreline protection works at the Bar Beach and encourage the natural run of the current,” Frame says.
To reclaim almost 9 million square metres of land, the company employed a blend of unique technologies rarely used before. According to Frame, Eko Atlantic shall be completed in two phases. The first phase shall involve the actual reclamation dredging and sand-filling which will take six years, and the second phase is projected to last two years and will encompass allocation, building of plots and provision of other such infrastructure.
The first phase shall be composed of the construction of a revetment, which is the sea defence wall made of a layer of rocks called accropodes, designed by Royal Haskoning and tested at the Danish Hydraulic Institute (DHI).
The test composed of piling, in graduations, wave intensities up to 1000 years from 100 years to see if the accropodes could withstand sustained wave and storm pressure. This is to protect the basic core which has another layer of rocks to provide a filter between the primary core and the sea defence wall. Presently, almost nine million cubic metres of sand have been deposited over 400,000 square metres.
While Eko Atlantic is going to ease housing problems in the metropolis, its major potential lies in the economic advantages for the state and its people.
With the free trade zones being established and the present dynamic focus on infrastructural development, those who require a more serene and secure environment for their operations and businesses and who want to be part of a new frontier, will be able to move to the new city.
There will be many attractions in the new city. There will be hotels, relaxation spots, cafes and restaurants, casinos and real estate developments which will all be part of the economic gains for the state and indeed the country. Foreign investment will increase. And it will definitely not hurt tourism, rather enhance it as the city will be a preferred tourist attraction with its proximity to the ocean, the sea-side walkway and numerous parks planned that will also enhance environmental sustainability.
With an eight-year completion date, the generality of Nigerians are waiting eagerly for 2015 when the city will be completed and open to the public.
“It is what has never been seen in this part of the world and our hope is that it will be the forerunner, a blue-print of many of such projects in future,” Frame says.
Can he deliver? Will Eko Atlantic meet all expectations? The signs are promising.
By Samuel Nwosu, Alpha Beta