Monday, 18 March 2013

Eko Atlantic City: Turning Adversity To Prosperity.

The story of the Eko Atlantic City is that of the unending efforts of man to turn natural adversity into prosperity. In 2003, erosion ravaged a good part of Victoria Island, with a very serious threat to Ahmadu Bello Way, whose border had partially collapsed into the sea.

Concerned about this development, the state governor at the time, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, sought the help of experts with a view to stemming the tide of erosion which was threatening to swallow up the whole of Victoria Island. It was in the course of the study of the problem that it was revealed that if a wall was constructed on the original coastline, it would effectively check the course of the erosion. That is the origin of the Eko Atlantic City project.

When completed, the new city would be home to 250,000 people and a workplace of 150,000 others as it is planned as a mix of business and residential developments. The city is to have different districts with different offerings. It is being conceived and developed to be better than Manhattan in New York City and Dubai in United Arab Emirate when it is fully completed. The project represents a peep into the future of Lagos as it offers a world-class infrastructure to facilitate the development of a new African city. With Lagos’ growing population and its attendant implications, Eko Atlantic City will help, in no small way, to widen the options available for socio-economic interaction in the state. In essence, part of the objective for bringing the city on board is to relieve the pressure on the ever enlarging population of the state. The 10 square kilometre city will have waterfront areas, tree-lined streets, efficient transportation systems and mixed-use plots that combine residential areas with leisure facilities, offices and shops.

The Eko Atlantic City project is basically a recovery and environmental protection plan whose main goal is to restore land lost to coastal erosion since the late 1950s and to offer a lasting solution to the erosion dilemma by providing a strong sea wall or revetment along the newly reconstructed coastline. Lagos is not alone in this unending struggle between man and the forces of nature. Similar process has taken place in the Netherlands, large parts of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, parts of Dublin, Ireland, parts of New Orleans (which is partially built on land that was once swamp), much of the urbanised area adjacent to San Francisco Bay, including most of San Francisco’s waterfront and financial district, Mexico City (which is situated at the former site of Lake Texcoco), large parts of Monaco, 25% of Hong Kong Island, Mumbai, India and loads of individual islands, one of which the Burj al Arab Hotel in Dubai lies on.

A remarkable aspect of the Eko Atlantic City project is the Great Wall of Lagos which when completed will be over 8 kilometres long and will be topped by 100,000 five-ton concrete blocks which interlock loosely to form an effective barrier that dispels the force of the waves and provides the primary armoured sea defence.

 It will rise nine meters above sea level and – from scale drawing at the showroom of Eko Atlantic at the Bar Beach, Victoria Island – will almost encircle the new city. It would be a sight to behold. Presently, the Great Wall has gone past the halfway construction stage at 4.5 kilometres in length and is growing at the rate of about six metres a day. Former US President, Bill Clinton, said of the wall: “I am convinced that within five years, people will be coming from all over the world to see this wall”.

One is, indeed, delighted by the prospect of this new city that is expected to accommodate 250,000 people, generate employment opportunities for over 50,000 people and approximately 150,000 people commuting daily into the city to work and do business. The recent dedication of the 5,000,000 square metres reclaimed land for the development of the city reflects the determination of the state government and its other promoters to make the project a reality. One aspect of the project that is particularly fascinating is its tourism potentials, which when completed, would serve as an additional support to drive the nation’s tourism sector. The city, when completed, will become first choice for financiers and vacationers all over the world.

It presents its occupants with world class facilities and infrastructure that makes working and living there a pleasure as it is expected to generate its power as well as its water.

Coming at a time when our dear country is being likened to a failed state in some circles, the project is an affirmation of the fact that Nigeria is capable of accomplishing greater feats despite its numerous challenges. This project is one of the good news that we will continue to talk about in this country for a long time to come. On completion, the city would not only create a tourist delight for people all over the world, but would contribute to the development of Nigeria’s economy in no small measure considering its window of enormous opportunities.

The Lagos state government and its partners on the project should be commended for keeping faith with their commitment towards the project. One is particularly impressed by the presence of President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. Bill Clinton and other high calibre individuals at the recent dedication of the project as it represents the power of common commitment to the survival of human race on the planet. It is only in putting up such common fronts that we can successfully confront nature and its challenges across the world.

Aside being an audacious engineering and architectural statement, the city symbolises the enduring spirit of man to conquer nature. This is because the ability of human civilisation to survive and prosper on the planet has been a story of constant battle against nature. The symbols of that triumph are many across the world. The airplane is one of them. The Panama Canal is yet another. The European tunnel is another. The pyramid of Egypt remains an intriguing model of global edifice that stands as a brand testimony of the indefatigable depth of human capacity for survival.

While urging relevant stakeholders to join hands with the state government and its partners in the actualisation of this laudable project, one would like to echo the words of Bill Clinton during the re-dedication of the project: “People world-wide need to come together and do something specific and exhibit commitment to do something specific. No one in the world is powerful enough. No one in the world is wealthy enough to solve the world’s problem. But we can all do something to solve them and when people make a commitment, we expect them to keep it.”....

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