The Island of Lagos is by no means new to the fury of nature, as a ferocious ocean current lord on the entire West Africa gulf. It has even threatened to wash out Victoria Island, one of the most treasured parts of the city. Now the State government has taken the battle back to nature.
When the Nigerian economy was yet booming some decades ago, living in Lagos, the formal capital city, also call the Center of Excellence was the dream of many Africans.
A lot of Western visitors also respected the bubbling metropolitan city. It was even regarded by many, as the London of Africa. But mismanagement among other negative factors soon crumbled the economy, thereby inviting, even the vultures to feed on the city’s remains.
The State governor, Babatunde Fashola is more than ambitious about the city, in spite of the fact that the problem facing it is more than just one.
Lagos has a limited land space, yet it house about 15 million people, and experts believe that number could hit 25 million by 2015 and become the third largest city in the world. Therefore, mere cleaning up the city mess is only a job half done.
From the rotting infrastructures to the poorly organized street trade which cripples the flow of traffic in one of the world most crowded city, a new day has come.
Many parts of the Lagos’ jammed quarters, such as Oshodi has been cleared by the Fashola’s administration. More to it was the flagging up of the gigantic project of city expansion. One project believed to resolve two problems at a time, creating the much needed space for the surging population and defending the city from the forces of nature.
According to the formal Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu, the Eko Atlantic City project was born out of the fear that Lagos Island could be over flooded with the ocean water one day. And not to respond more than the already created sea wall, completed last year might be dangerous in the future.
The Chinese company, CCCG handling the project is working round the clock, gathering fresh sand from the ocean bed and depositing it in a marked out area to be reclaimed from the ocean. About 8,000,000 square meters, approximately 40 percent larger then the present Victoria Island.
The Lagos State Commissioner for the Ministry of Waterfront and Infrastructural Development, Mr. Segun Oniru is quoted by a local newspaper, ‘The Nation’, to have explained some details about the project:
“The state government is basically reclaiming the land area lost to erosion in the past 100 years. With this development, the Ministry is surely on its way to transform what was once known as a liability into the most revenue yielding asset of our time”.
According to the minister, the infrastructures to be created in the new city will include international standard road network, surface water drainage, electrical power generation plant, water supply treatment plant and dozens of recreational facilities.
The project which was first experimented in Denmark by reconstructing a similar current with three dimensional sea walls, springing up from the ocean bed is believed to create a state of the art 21st century city, in West Africa.
Few weeks ago in an interview to CNN on its weekly program, ‘Inside Africa’, Divide Frame, the Project Consultant submitted that the new city will hopefully become the financial capital of Africa.
At an earlier press conference organized at Eko hotel, in October 2008, he spoke on the feasibility of the project:
“While you may think it is an ambitious plan, we know it is feasible. It is a very unique project. It will be the Dubai of Africa when completed. We are building a city of 21st century standard. We have consulted wide and far and we are still consulting. Our initial consultations were on the perennial problems of the ocean surge at the Bar Beach. That took us as far as Holland where we got the consultants now handling the Eko Atlantic City project with a track record of over 100 years. As you perhaps know, the Dutch have a great history of battling and conquering the ocean dating back to about 400 years. Those are the hands we have employed for the Eko Atlantic City project”.
Speaking about the reliability of the Chinese company handling the sand filling of the marked out area in the water, he added: “CCCG is the largest dredging company in China. They have examined the projects and they know with us it can be done”.
This was further confirmed last week according to the news report at the official website of DHI, the company handling the experiment of the city project.
“Twenty guests from Nigeria, France, Holland and China have visited DHI physical model testing facilities. Here they witnessed 3D physical model tests ensuring a stable and reliable revetment design for the EKO Atlantic City development project in Lagos, Nigeria.
A successful visit convinced project owner, contractor, consulting engineers and authorities that the tested design in the DH
I laboratory is a safe design. Witnessing tests gives DHI clients very valuable insight into the performance of the studies of structure interaction with extreme wave climates”.
The monumental project surely does not lack criticism.
In this global financial crisis, the project is certainly going to suck out enormous amount of money, even though the federal government is giving a green light to the ambitious plan of remaking Lagos and boosting the economy.
Some argue that money should have been given to the neighboring State of Ogun for a piece of land to develop as an addition to the city of Lagos. And some others are afraid for the obvious reason; Nigerians lack maintenance culture.
Can the government guarantee a sustainable maintenance of the property?
This however has not deterred the government of Fashola, because change they say is constant and Nigerians should be ready for the positive ones.
Ewanfoh Obehi Peter
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