• Monday, May 20, 2024
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Demolition: Rubbles replace businesses as FG bulldozes Landmark Beach

Demolition: Rubbles replace businesses as FG’s bulldozer visits Landmark Beach

For Landmark Group, which prides itself as a one-stop ecosystem and one of the largest business, leisure and lifestyle destinations in West Africa, Monday, April 29, 2024 is a day to remember as federal government bulldozer visited its beach resort and reduced some businesses there to mere rubbles.

The government is building a 700-kilometre coastal highway that starts from Lagos, connecting nine coastal states and terminating in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.

To create right of way for the project which is estimated to cost the federal government N15 trillion, all properties along the highway and within its right of way have to give way. The Landmark Beach Resort, valued at $200 million, is one of them. Mami Chula Beach Lifestyle is another.

After the demolition, a visibly worried Paul Onwuanibe, the Group CEO of Landmark, told BusinessDay that about 70 percent of the beach was destroyed by the government bulldozer, describing the action as “insensitive.”

“What is left of these businesses are the rubbles you can see (in video clips he captured while the demolition was going on). Those are people’s investment and means of livelihood reduced to mere rubbles; so many jobs have been lost and many Nigerian families are in for it,” Onwuanibe said.

Read also: 80+ businesses, 12,000 jobs will be affected if Landmark Beach is demolished – Management

David Umahi, the minister of works, had said at the weekend that nothing would stop the federal government from claiming the right of way for the coastal highway which explains the demolition of the Landmark Beach and many other properties in the days ahead.

Though the minister assured that government would pay adequate compensation for properties destroyed where necessary, some Nigerians have reacted variously to the on-going demolition and destruction of homes and businesses, saying that re-routing the coastal road could have been an option.

Writing on his X (formerly Twitter), Edwin Okon Jnr, said, “seeing a huge investment like Landmark Beach getting destroyed is sickening. $200m investment with yearly tax remittances of N2 billion to the Lagos State government getting bulldozed just like that… It’s pathetic.”

In a manner that tended to stoke the controversies around the coastal road project, another Nigerian who identified himself simply as Emecs @euohanu, queried, “was an Environmental & Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) conducted for this project? What were the mitigation measures outlined for this project in the report? Or does it seem government is contravening their own laws by not carrying out an ESIA? The project is surrounded with many controversies.”

In all these, however, some Nigerians look beyond the demolition of properties to the over-riding public interest of the coastal road. This explains the view of another concerned Nigerian who did not want to be named, saying: “Something must give way to the right of way.”

Continuing, he said, “does the coastal lines or sea shores belong to Landmark in the first place? Is Landmark the only thing yielding the right of ways in that axis? Other things have been giving ways to the right of way from time immemorial, and that will never stop. It is called overriding public interest, and heaven won’t fall.”

Bolaji Ariyo, CEO, Mami Chula Beach Lifestyle, which was demolished on Saturday, held similar view, saying he stood with the project’s vision “even if it causes inconvenience for some of us”.

He added that as the government is promising to make life easy for all Nigerians, some people must be affected, noting that those affected are not up to the millions that will enjoy the coastal road. “That’s why people like me have taken it to heart to also support the federal government and the minister to ensure that this road comes to life,” he said.