Gated communities in Lagos are residential neighbourhoods or housing estates with strictly controlled entrances that are often characterised by a closed perimeter of walls and fences.
For many residents, the importance of that extra security and privacy that gated communities offer amongst others is well worth striving to enjoy, especially in a busy metropolitan city like Lagos.
This however, may be contradictory to global best practices when we considered trend in other countries across the world. While the world is embracing and adopting technology to provide security, Nigeria and Nigerians are reverting to having community gates manned by humans.
This is funny because some years ago, robbers were going from house to house dispossessing people of their money and valuables in Lagos.
Ordinarily, Nigeria of today should be better than its yesterday. But, the reverse is the case as more and more communities are resorting to having physical barriers in response to security challenges.
However, in response to this, residents began to man big gates on their streets and vigilantes were formed to guard the streets at night. Some communities even engaged non-state actors like the Odua People’s Congress (OPC) as security operatives for streets and estates in Lagos.
In 2009, Babatunde Fashola, the then governor of Lagos State directed that gates erected at the entrance and exit of every street in the state should be dismountled, ordering that the gates should remain open between 5am to 12 midnight daily.
Fashola said that the initiative was part of measures by the state government to further open up exit routes around traffic gridlock-prone areas as well as enhance security network in the metropolis.
Directing the people to dismantle the gates, Fashola said the practice was illegal since they lacked any approval from the ministry of physical planning and urban development.
“The reason we are opposed to the practice of keeping gates perpetually locked is that there may be emergencies, there may be fire outbreak. A pregnant woman can fall into labour anytime and may have to get to the hospital promptly. If you lock the gates what happens? We have had cases where some pregnant women died because the gates were closed,” Muslim Folami, the state’s commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, stated then.
There was a law in Lagos State that forbids residents shutting street gates indiscriminately within some periods in the state. According to him, the measure was necessary because the state government was concerned about the welfare and safety of the residents. “The residents must obey the laws of the state government.”
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Folami further said that the state government was not against residents having gates in their streets or estate, rather it wanted such gates to be manned 24 hours by security personnel who will execute the time frame for shutting such gate(s).
It is a reflection of increase in crime – Rev. Kasali
However, the practice across several communities in the state negates these directives by the government, with gated communities sprinting up in Lagos considering the fact that the executive order has not been lifted by successive administration.
“The gated community in Lagos is a reflection of the increase in crime. Poverty fuel crime and criminality, and am sure the government and President Tinubu will be thinking seriously on how to address poverty,” Yomi Kasali, senior pastor, Foundation of Truth Assembly (FOTA), said.
According to him, the level of crime across the country is very bad and alarming that calls for pray for country, because when there is so much crime – kidnapping, killings and insecurity; if anything sparks Nigeria might have a bigger thing to grapple with.
“My concern with gated communities is that it is a reflection and everybody just wants to be safe and secure. I just came from Abuja two days ago, and the crime and criminality there has gone hey wire – one chance almost every day. We have one or two cases with sons and daughters of our church and it’s very bad. I almost felt like did they import it from Lagos to Abuja.
“I pray for the president, I pray for the IG of Police, I pray for those out there and I pray that God will help them to be able to address poverty in a frontier manner,” Kasali said.
Yomi Ajibade, a Public Relation (PR) practitioner told BusinessDay that the idea of gated community is basically to secure lives and property. According to him, the country has never been in safe mood, hence the need for the populace to provide their own security architecture.
“But prison at time is better than being killed. Many don’t have option than to just save their life. They need to guard their loved one, and enjoy their labour,” Ajibade said.
Speaking further, Ajibade said that he cannot blame people for gating their communities, because their lives are not safe with government. “What is our security level measure? Zero.
“People are killed without appropriate justices, and you are saying they should not gate themselves,” he asked.
Gates should not be locked perpetually – Adewale
Charles Adewale, a lecturer with Caleb University, Lagos said it was a good measure considering the level of insecuriry in the country. However, he said that the gates should not be locked perpetually, especially those connecting major roads in the community.
“It is advisable to get security personnel attached to these gates,” he said.
Another Lagos resident in Ketu identified simply as Oluchi told BusinessDay that the idea of having gated community is a welcome initiative.
“In my area we have gates and this has helped to some extent in curtailing the activities of criminals around the environment. It has helped in reducing movement in and out from certain period of times.”
While the idea of gated community is not to be celebrated on a general note, howbeit, there are certain benefits that Lagosians looking to buy or live in a gated community can enjoy. Such communities are attractive to investment, and usually present a good return on investment (ROI) for prospective real estate investors.
Six reasons gated community looks attractive to Lagosians
Return on Investment
Due to the availability of some basic amenities, gated communities, houses within this neighbourhood are known to yield high return on investment.
This is by far one of the most important advantages of living in a gated community. Gated communities have controlled access into the neighbourhood, which help in reducing the risk of mishap and security challenges.
Gated communities also allow some level of networking among residents, and are normally situated at strategic locations close to the business and entertainment centers.
Facilities and convenience
Houses in a gated community enjoy facilities that are shared by the community. These are facilities you’ll ordinarily pay extra fees for in single, stand-alone homes. The presence of these facilities also assures a level of convenience and comfort for residents.
Maintenance cost is significantly reduced for houses in this neighborhood because cost is mostly shared, except for personal costs that are usually minimal. Gated communities are usually maintained by Landlord’s Associations.
Residents often enjoy a happy and peaceful lifestyle, which guarantee their privacy. In other words, living in a gated community offers a calm and quite environment for residents.
Safety concerns with gated communities
While it is true that gated communities could be attractive to an average middle class and upper class citizens. It also comes with some safety concerns that necessitated the executive order issued by the state government under the Babatunde Fashola’s administration.
Paramount among these safety concerns is the need for emergency access in and out of the community, especially at odd hours of the day. This need have often resulted in the death of residents like women in labour and in need of urgent medical attention.
The state government under the administration of Akinwunmi Ambode said it would not hesitate to sanction residents who are in the practice of shutting down their streets with iron gates contrary to subsisting executive order in the state.
Indicating the need for the government in the state to oppose to the practice of keeping gates perpetually locked is that there may be emergencies, resulting from fire outbreaks. Similarly, a pregnant woman can fall into labour anytime and may have to get to the hospital promptly.
“The reason we are opposed to the practice of keeping gates perpetually locked is that there may be emergencies, there may be fire outbreak. A pregnant woman can fall into labour anytime and may have to get to the hospital promptly. If you lock the gates what happens. We have had cases where some pregnant women died because the gates were closed.
“There were so many incidents of fire outbreak where the streets could not be accessed to put out the fire because the gates to the streets were closed. We will not fold our hands and allow such things to happen. What are we doing as government then if we allow such things to happen? We have decided that henceforth, anyone found guilty will be punished,” Folami state the government position then.