Construction work on Eko Atlantic City started in February after president Goodluck Jonathan flagged off the project. Built on land reclaimed from the Atlantic Ocean, the city plans, amongst other things, to target 400,000 residents and 250,000 commuters flowing daily to and from the island, return the coast to its previous position in the 1950s and 1960s, and reverse the damage wrought by erosion, over the years. The original idea for the Atlantic City arose when the Lagos State government expressed a need for a permanent solution to the coastal erosion plaguing the Bar Beach in Victoria Island, as well as a safeguard for Victoria Island from the threat of flooding. Thus, between 2003 and 2005, the developers and city planners of the Eko Atlantic City – South Energyx Nigeria Limited – engaged in a feasibility study with international experts to look for a ‘once and for all’ solution for the problem. It is proposed that the new city, a 10square kilometre development, will have water-front area, tree-lined streets, and efficient transport system and mixed-use plots that will combine residential areas with leisure facilities, offices and shops.
The Eko Atlantic City is important for many reasons. Not only will it build on Lagos’ reputation as the “land of aquatic splendour”, it will serve as a tourist attraction. It is also considered that the new city will help to decongest areas of Lagos, the state constantly having to struggle with the toll of rapid development and economic growth.
The job opportunities and economic prospects the project provides are also enormous – thousands of people will participate in the construction of the city, and it is only expected that the financial return will then be spent in Lagos.
The Eko Atlantic City will also establish Lagos as a modern city firmly on the world map. This is particularly important when we consider that Lagos is one of the fastest growing cities in the world – indeed, many analysts have pointed to Lagos being the second fastest growing city in Africa, and the seventh fastest in the world. With all this growth, however, has not come a benefitting recognition, as the state’s congestion, unbalanced population explosion and lack of commensurate, critical infrastructure are regularly cited as drawbacks to achieving the “modern city” status.
More than anything, however, is what the Eko Atlantic City symbolizes. It embodies the determination and the resilience of the Nigerian spirit. It also represents the willingness and ability to diversify from oil as the primary source of wealth for Nigeria’s economy.
The Eko Atlantic City reflects what the country is truly capable of given the right blend of visionary leadership and an adequate deployment of resources. The Eko Atlantic City is a true beacon of what the world should expect from Nigeria, and indeed the African continent in the near future – progress and development
– Erejuwa Gbadeb