• Thursday, May 30, 2024
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Lagos-Calabar Coastal Road: Here’s what real estate operators tell FG

Can Nigeria’s coastal highway drive industrialisation, economic transformation?

As concerns mount and panic spreads among business owners over the demolition notice given to property owners by the Lagos State government in respect of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Road right of way, real estate operators have weighed in with advice and suggestions for the federal government.

The operators who share the fears and concerns of business owners, especially those operating within the $200 million Landmark Beach Resort, say that a government that is globe-trotting in search of foreign investors should not be sending wrong signals to the same investors that investments are not safe in Nigeria.

Read also: Secrecy, suspicion, and soaring costs: Why Nigerians doubt the Lagos-Calabar coastal road project

They are, therefore, advising the federal government to reconsider their decision by finding what they call “a win-win solution” that will protect people’s investments, save jobs, encourage private enterprise and engender investor-confidence, all in the interest of the economy of the country.

“My straightforward advice, especially as I am fully aware of the impact of waterfront developments, is to find a way around it; I am not convinced that the surveyors have gone all out to do all that should be done to mitigate the impact of that project on properties,” Joel Imadoja, a civil engineer, said in an interview with BusinessDay.

Read also: Lagos-Calabar coastal highway: Doherty tells Lagos to seek alternatives to demolition of Landmark, others

Imadoja noted that government seems not to realise that the moment some beach properties are taken away, those that are left behind will not be useable again, stressing that once a small proportion of a property’s set back is taken away, the property owner ends up losing the entire property because what is left for him is no longer useful.

“I have gone to other countries of the world where you see roads meandering and, if you don’t have information, you wouldn’t know that they are avoiding properties. Government needs to ask questions as to whether it has to run a road that will lead to destruction of properties and businesses,” he said.

Continuing, he said, “the coastal road is a laudable project that may benefit the economy, no doubt, but much care has to be taken to mitigate the impact. Questions have to be asked how many jobs are to be lost by just constructing 1-kilometre road?”

Funsho Adebayo, a property developer, shares this view, stressing that what government needs to do is to find a way to re-route the road in order to save investments. “This is global practice; it has been done even in advanced economies for the sake of people’s investments and jobs which are sources of revenue for government,” he said in a chat with our reporter.

Adebayo cited two instances where roads were constructed in snake manner in order to avoid compensation or loss of homes as in the case of Ikotun-Igando road in Lagos and for fear of the known as was done in Niger Delta at the peak of militant activities in that region.

Read also: Lagos-Calabar Coastal Road: Property owners seek talks with FG

Paul Onwuanibe, the Group CEO of Landmark Group, had in a statement conveyed on his X (formerly Twitter) canvassed a win-win solution to avert demolition of his company’s Beach Resort.

Amid panic and apprehension among business owners within the resort, Onwuanibe is confident that active talks with various arms of the federal and state governments, including the Lagos State government, the Federal and State Ministries of Tourism, and the Federal Ministry of Works as well as several interest groups, will yield positive outcome.

He revealed that the group has received firm assurances that there will be no disruptions to business while they work to agree on win-win solutions, including rerouting the first 1.5km out of the 700km stretch of the Road to its original location along the undeveloped Water Corporation Road median.

“We believe that with careful collaboration and consultation, a small number of other minor reroutes may be required to sustain the existing socio-economic activity along the course of this Road.

The Coastal Road is a commendable project that will significantly boost the economy, and I believe that engaged consultations (as are ongoing) will help determine ways of developing the Road while preserving the Landmark Group ecosystem businesses that are remitting billions of naira in taxes annually while employing thousands of Nigerians,” he said.

He disclosed that within the Landmark ecosystem are over 80 diverse businesses half of which are SMEs operating from a world class integrated location along the Water Corporation Road and, in synergy, provide a variety of corporate, leisure, hospitality and tourism services to the over three million local and international visitors who visit the ecosystem yearly.

Onwuanibe noted that these businesses are, in conjunction, spotlighting Lagos as a viable tourism destination on the global stage, adding that their location is arguably the most visited waterfront destination on the West African coast “owned by Nigerians, for Nigerians, and in Nigeria.”