• Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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BusinessDay

Enugu Lifestyle and Golf City(Centenary City): Setting the fact straight

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The ongoing discourse surrounding the demolition of uncompleted buildings in Centenary City has gained traction through trending videos and comments on various social media platforms. However, it is pertinent to note that the trending videos and comments on social media do not reflect the facts.
Enugu Lifestyle and Golf City, also known as Centenary City, was envisioned by the Enugu State Government (ENSG) and Private Estates International West Africa Limited (“PEIWA”) as a response to the severe housing shortage in Enugu State. It is a model city that would expand Enugu City, projecting it as the city to live in and ultimately boosting the revenue drive and improving the infrastructure of the State.

In 2009, the State Government entered into a public-private partnership with PEIWA under the New Township Development Agreement (“NTDA”) to bring this dream to fruition. PEIWA was to develop the City on an expanse of land covering approximately 1,097 hectares situated at Obeagu/Amechi Awkunanaw, Enugu Local Government Area, Enugu State.
The features of the City include a golf course, green parks, schools, hospitals, recreation areas, state-of-the-art electronic security systems, a water treatment plant, street lighting, a wireless network, shopping malls, roads, drains, walkways, etc. Most important of all, the Land Use Plan for the project specifically provides for the commercial and residential areas, the low and high-density communities detailing the house types allowed in the different communities.

PEIWA lived up to its end of the agreement by raising billions of Naira from Access Bank (formerly Diamond Bank) and via equity to finance the project.
A cartel of land grabbers invaded the project, and these individuals sold off the land to third-party buyers and erected buildings indiscriminately without regard to the City’s master plan. PEIWA issued numerous newspaper and radio announcements, providing ample notice to prospective buyers to refrain from acquiring or constructing properties within Centenary City. Regrettably, these advisories were disregarded by the concerned buyers.

During the early stage of the construction of these buildings, the Enugu State Capital Development Authority marked them as illegal constructions as they were being constructed without approvals and title documents. However, the cartels continued their activities – building on drainage channels, designated green areas, underground cables, and even on land that had already been sold to other legitimate end users. Additionally, residential structures were erected on designated commercial spaces, further exacerbating the situation. Notably, the Golf Course, an endeavour in which PEIWA had invested $2.2 million for its construction, was unlawfully parcelled and sold by this gang of land grabbers.

The project faced a major setback in November 2019 when the newly appointed Commissioner of Lands illegally revoked PEIWA’s right of occupancy over the land. PEIWA took immediate action to secure a court injunction stopping the illegality from taking effect. The action of the Commissioner of Lands exacerbated the actions of the land grabbers, as it emboldened them to continue their illegal trespass even though there were multiple court injunctions restraining the government and any third party from entering the land. In addition to the Court injunctions, newspaper publications and radio adverts, PEIWA sent personal

messages to the illegal developers to cease further development. All these efforts did not deter the developers.
The previous Enugu State Government, in its bid to encourage private investors and promote economic development in the State, intervened and reversed the action of the Commissioner of Lands and took actions to provide the necessary support to ensure the project is achieved as planned. In June 2022, the State Government issued a public notice in major national newspapers cautioning against the development and any further encroachment.

PEIWA and the previous State Government reached a Consent Judgement in February 2023, which unequivocally recognized PEIWA as the rightful owner of the land and mandated the Government to reinstate the Master Plan of Centenary City. Subsequently, in 2023, consistent with the terms of the consent judgment, the Enugu State Capital Territory published an advisory on the 21st of April, 2023, notifying all trespassers of the impending demolition of unlawfully constructed residences. Despite these warnings, these individuals persisted in unauthorized construction, devoid of necessary approvals or permits, and disregarding the prescribed Master Plan and Building Guidelines for the City. This unapproved development has led to the distortion of the master plan, rapidly transforming the City into a slum. These illegally constructed uncompleted buildings have been occupied by some criminal elements, thereby posing a threat to the safety of citizens of the State.

Contrary to the trending video and comments, only a handful of illegal and uncompleted developments were brought down. The government has continued to work with all illegal trespassers who engaged in the process to resolve the issues. PEIWA is committed to meeting its commitment to developing a project that presents Enugu as a desirable place to live, work, and engage with life. The company is committed to ensuring the project delivers the state’s economic development goal and the beauty the firm desires for Ndi Enugu.

Management
Private Estate International West Africa Limited