When in early 2005 the turbulence occasioned by violent tidal waves on Bar Beach waterfront seemed to have defied every federal effort, the Lagos State Government sought and got the federal nod to try her best. Immediately, the state government under former governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu contracted a Dutch shoreline protection giant, Hitech Group, who effectively contained the ocean violence till date.Relying on the unprecedented success recorded at the waterfront protection, the same government was prompted to step up the feat by reclaiming lost lands in the last 100 years estimated at about 9 million square kilometres. This thought culminated to sealing a multibillion-dollar concession deal in July 2006 with another foreign firm, South Energyx Nigeria Limited (SENL), to recover the lost land and on it, sculpture a 21st century city expected to serve as the strategic business hub for the sub-Saharan Africa.
Answering questions from Nigerian Orient News, Mr Marc Chaghouri, senior staff of the Chagoury Group, owners of SENL, during a recent site tour said the level of environment-friendly technologies deployed from the design to the ongoing implementation stage of the scheme prompted the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) to recognise SENL as a committed group in the fight against global warming and climate change, especially in effectively sealing the future of ocean flooding on Victoria Island for life.
While disclosing that several local financial institutions are seeking to be partners, Chaghouri said SENL is comfortable with the few it’s working with including First Bank, FCMB, GT Bank and BNP Paribas Fortis, sole international funding partner. “Other technical partners to the development include some of the world’s best in marine engineering, land reclamation and city design as well as strong financial backing from local and international banks,” he said.
Already, early buyers into the merging Eko Atlantic city scheme being sculptured on Bar Beach waterfront, Victoria Island, Lagos, are set to begin construction activities on reclaimed areas. Otherwise, the effective switch from the era of hostile waterfront to emerging massive expanse of reclaimed land mass spanning into nine million square metres, no doubt, has provided a strategic window for world class high rises to be serviced with unbeatable infrastructure on the hitherto turbulent waterfront.
Explaining the entire deal and progress of works to Nigerian Orient News at the site, Mr David Frame, Chief Executive Officer of the core investor and developer SENL, explained that “The concept of Eko Atlantic city is to create an international standard city with 21st century characteristics on reclaimed land that was submerged about 100 years ago”.
It would be recalled that SENL is a division of the Chagoury Group, a conglomerate that has been doing business in Nigeria in the last 30 years. He said though the sand-filling for the entire project is expected to be completed by 2016, the effectively reclaimed land mass in excess of 1.3 million square metres is not only ready for sale to developers but earlier buyers are set to build. According to him, SENL sealed a 78-year freehold deal with the State Government in 2006 and the deal is renewable after the first freehold period expected to expire around the year 2084.
Giving details of the plots’ selling plan, estate management giant and consultant to SENL, Diya Fatimilehin & Co, represented by Mr Diya Kolawole, said for now, a reclaimed space of one square metre goes for between $845 and $1,666 depending on districts within the new city. He said Eko Atlantic city will cover seven districts including Ocean Front, Harbour Lights, Business District, Eko Drive, Marina, Avenues and Downtown district spread across 1.3 million square metres of land solely dedicated to providing ECOWAS with a state-of-the-art commercial hub: “Lying at the heart of the Business District is the Eko Atlantic Financial Centre: a key to success and posterity. The financial centre’s imposing towers will house corporate headquarters of blue chip conglomerates, banks, insurance firms, giants in the oil and gas sector, a stock exchange, convention centre, auditoriums and hotels”.
Diya further revealed that apart from the entire design concept that is driven by business passion and excellence, the city comes with every infrastructure that makes living meaningful at all times: “You don’t need to worry yourself on how to source for diesel for power as power plant designed for the whole city will be provided alongside with effective water supply system, security, leisure and other things that will make the city a place to live and work.”
In transport, the estate consultant said a fast and efficient citywide transportation system including light rail, water and road networks would be provided, stressing that the experience of Lagos has made the planning of the city to maintain zero parking tolerance. According to him, every building in view of its size must have inbuilt parking space capable of effectively absorbing both residents’ and visitors’ vehicles at all times. On the plots’ marketing convenience, Diya explained that over 11 per cent of the entire business districts have been sold at an encouraging payment plan suitable for both the core investor and prospective developers. He made it clear that every investment in the scheme is private-sector driven since the Lagos State Government signed the 78-year freehold with SENL in 2006, stressing that the state government is not contributing any funds to the scheme. Giving additional technical details of the project, Mr Frame explained that Eko Atlantic city will be protected by a seven-kilometres-long sea wall to be called the Great Wall of Lagos, saying “Already, the wall has stretched over one kilometre as dredging works continue. It was designed by Dutch specialists, Royal Haskoning, and tested in Denmark by the world-renowned Danish Hydraulic Institute (DHI)”. The designer of the sea wall proved that it can withstand the worst storm imaginable in a thousand years. Observers in development planning and environmental management say the success story of the emerging Eko Atlantic city and ongoing massive infrastructural renewal in Lagos State cannot be unconnected with the beauty continuity in governance and policy consistency between the former administration and current leadership under Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola.
Iheanyi Okenwa, Nigerian Orient News