Plans to actualise the multibillion-naira ambitious mixed-use development scheme on the Lagos Bar Beach corridor may gather momentum shortly, as efforts are under way for the release of information on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the financial centre segment of the scheme investors.The financial centre MOU, of which a draft is currently undergoing amendments by the project promoters and city planners, Messrs South Energyx Nigeria Limited, comes as part of the Eko Atlantic city scheme, which they expect would trigger substantial interest among the investing public as it will document commitments by the developers and investors, including cost of investment into the financial district.
The project is spread across seven districts comprising residential, commercial, and financial and tourism developments. Under the scheme, each of the proposed seven districts of the city would display its own unique characteristics, but the infrastructure design will be standardised across the new city. The proposed districts are Ocean Front, Harbour Lights, Financial District, Eko Drive, Downtown, Marina and Avenues. Schools and medical facilities and spaces for fun, arts, culture and recreation will also serve the area.
The Financial District with its unique design concept comprising towering structures of architectural excellence, will be visible from Lagos city centre and Victoria Island, as well as passing ships in the Atlantic Ocean. Expected to be a beehive of activities for the financial sector, it is to focus on the cutting edge of business and finance, while offering an opportunity to develop commercial and residential activity.
Senior officials of the company claimed at the formal opening of the Eko Atlantic city showroom that several investors have made enquiries, while others have indicated interest on the financial area and are awaiting information on the MOU to seal deals with the firm.
“This district is located where the coastal highway meets the river, benefiting from specially integrated fast access routes into a new financial hub for Lagos,” they told a team of visiting governors last week. “The metropolitan style high-rise area will also include restaurants, bars and cafes. On higher levels, especially penthouses, apartments would offer panoramic views of the entire city of Lagos and the Atlantic shoreline. Parking decks will be connected over the main road by foot bridges creating multidimensional urban activity several floors above street level.”
Designed by Messrs Royal Haskoning, a renowned firm of consultants, architects and engineers from the Netherlands, a special advisory team is working with the developers and investors to oversee standards. Funding for the project is coming from private equity and loans from financial institutions, led by First, FCMB and GT Bank.
The company’s Marketing and Communication Director, Mr Bernard Bridi, disclosing that many banks had indicated interest in the centre, said the MOU would raise more awareness of the scheme and the main project, which would commence in the first quarter of next year. Bridi added that the sand-filling and sea wall construction was on course, while the entire project has achieved about eight per cent completion. A total of 140 million tons or 95 million cubic metres of sand will be reclaimed.
Modelled after the sky-scraper district of Manhattan Island in New York City, it is expected that the new city would be home to no fewer than 250,000 residents, with commuter volume expected to exceed 150,000 people daily.
Ultimately, with nine kilometres of waterfront along the Atlantic Ocean and harbour channel, six kilometres of coastal highway and 20 kilometres of internal waterways, the city, according to the developers, would offer major investment options for waterfront development.
“Eko Atlantic will raise the standards of infrastructure in Lagos to sophisticated levels through a finely-structured urban plan that creates a balanced, environmentally friendly and efficient blueprint for a comfortable, healthy, safe and efficient style of life,” top officials of the company said at the weekend.
Construction of the marine work is to be completed in six years, with three distinct building phases spread over three two-year phases. Work on the first phase includes the ongoing sand-filling stage. The developers initiated the marine work to reclaim the nine square kilometres project area of Eko Atlantic city in 2008. An earlier round in the battle to protect the Lagos coastline three years ago involved the construction of a sea wall along Bar Beach, to prevent a potential flooding disaster that threatened Victoria Island.
More than a one-kilometre length of sand-filling has been established and targets are to retrieve at least two million cubic metres of sand by the end of the year. That is about one third of the current size of Victoria Island, standing on six million square metres. The entire project will cover nine million square metres.
“We project to have the sand-filling in place by 2015. On the civil engineering side, we plan to construct the first road into the site by April because we want to achieve access to the sea mole and boundary to the project. We started the sea mole in June 2009 and already we are close to completing one kilometre of the sea mole, which protects the sand-filling being put in place,” a senior official said.
By Chinedu Uwaegbulam, Assistant Housing & Environment, The Guardian Newspaper