No doubt, Nigeria is the world’s most heavily populated Black Country. It is also the second biggest economy in Africa, being the largest oil producer on the continent, with an economic growth of 6.1 per cent. This makes it a most promising market for international companies. However, much of its advantages have remained unharnessed as a result of the country’s infrastructural deficiencies.This challenge, including the need to help Nigerians live in a more decent environment that could compare favourably with any part of the world, is the reason behind the Eko Atlantic city, a city being planned within Lagos State. The dynamic city, according to South Energyx Nigeria Ltd, SENL, the developers and city planners behind the project, will be built on nine million square metres of reclaimed land from the ocean. This land mass is one and a half times bigger than the entire Victoria Island, which is estimated at six million square metres. The city, the company states, will restore the shoreline to where it was 100 years ago before it was lost to the ocean. So far, more than 1.3 million square metres of the land is already visible and is for sale.
The city, which is attracting global interest, already boasts of round-the-clock independent power generation and water supply, sewage disposal and maintenance systems, security, and a public light railway system which would have 60 stops throughout the city. It would also have a network of internal roads designed to ensure free flowing traffic within the seven districts, including a business district that would stand on 1.3 million square metres of land. The districts include: Ocean Front, Harbour Lights, Business District, Eko Drive, Marina, Avenues and Downtown.
For those who fear the ocean surge, the project handlers say they put that into consideration before embarking on it. “The sea wall, fondly called the Great Wall of Lagos, will be wide enough for a pedestrian promenade and is designed to withstand the worst storms imaginable over a hundred years’ cycle. This powerful defence system will stretch 6.5km and is being built a mile and a half offshore,”the company emphasizes, adding that it has made some progress in this regard.
The barrier was designed by Dutch specialists, Royal Haskoning, and tested in Denmark by the world-renowned Danish Hydraulic Institute, DHI. This design, according to SENL, shows that the barrier can withstand the worst storm imaginable in a thousand years.
With a network of fibre optic cables which would connect state-of-the-art telecommunications and an internal citywide waterway linked to three marinas, the company believes that the city would be a major tourist destination in the country, just as it would encourage the relocation of companies and their headquarters to it. Speaking on the choice of Lagos in the consideration of the project, David Frame, Managing Director of SENL, says “it is one of the fastest growing cities in the world and the demand for prime real estate is urgent.” He adds that Eko Atlantic city is being built to meet the demands of a city that would create the most viable business centre in the world when sand-filling of the project is completed by 2016.
Giving a description of what to expect of the city, Mr. Frame says: “The concept of Eko Atlantic is to create an international standard city with a 21st century concept. A display of dazzling towers that make up the Eko Atlantic Financial Centre will be among the first buildings to rise from the newly reclaimed land that has already grown to over 1.3 million square metres of prime real estate,”adding that SENL aims to meet the needs of 250,000 residents and 150,000 commuters with the project.
The company, which happens to be part of the Chagoury Group that has operated in the country for over 30 years, is handling the project privately and has been licensed by the state government to oversee the running of the city for 78 years, a lease which began in 2006. The company has strong financial backing from both local and international financial institutions including First Bank, FCMB and GT Bank in the Nigerian market, and BNP Paribas Fortis.
Recounting how the land mass was lost to the ocean, the company says the problem started in 1905 with the construction of the east and west breakwaters at the entrance to the Port of Lagos. By the year 2005, Bar Beach had been completely washed away due to the influence of coastal erosion. “Beach property was damaged, business lost and the threat of severe flooding to Lagos was persistent. In order to protect Victoria Island from further erosion, a shoreline protection plan was activated, resulting in a new sea wall that runs along the entire length of Bar Beach, holding back the ravages of ocean surge,” Mr Frame explained. He stressed that the city would set a new standard for living and working in West Africa.
By Eromosele Ebhomele, The News