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Coastal highway: Pathetic! What we built in six years was demolished in six hours – Landmark

…Umahi claims Peter Obi incites Igbo against FG

A part of Landmark Beach on Victoria Island, Lagos on Monday was demolished to give way to the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway, Nigeria’s biggest public infrastructure project.

 

This is despite the outcry in some sections about the potential jobs and means of livelihood that will be lost.

The Minister of Works, Dave Umahi, while defending the demolition noted that the move was necessary considering the landmark centre was located on the Federal Government’s Right-of-Way.

The minister had earlier assured that with the design of the coastal highway project, only 50 metres of the shoreline and a few shanties will be removed while “permanent structures” will be left intact.

Images from the demolition showed that structures erected along the coastline including cabanas, football turf, and many others were pulled down. Breeze Beach Club, located at the centre was also pulled down.

A post on X from Landmark Africa, the parent company of the beach, in reaction to the exercise, read “What we built in six years was destroyed in six hours”, alluding to their investment believed to be around $200m that has been turned to ruins. They, however, promised to be back.

Recall that Landmark owner, Paul Onwuanibe, had earlier pleaded that the government return the construction of the coastal road to the original alignment before it was moved to the path of the beachfront.

He said the original plan will not only save businesses that will be destroyed as a result of the revised plan, but also save money and manpower for the government.

“The original alignment of the coastal road was Water Corporation Road. I mean, you had the picture on your screen, and it showed quite clearly the Water Corporation Road, the two feeder lanes, and then the medium that was meant to house it.

“Then there’s Landmark, and there’s the beach, and there’s the sea. The alignment was changed from Water Corporation Road… so instead of it running on the land side of Landmark, it’s going to run on the beach side of Landmark,” he told Arise TV.

The 2023 presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, on Tuesday via his X page, called on President Bola Tinubu to discontinue the project to save jobs for Nigerians.

Obi said the project is a misplaced priority by the Federal Government adding that jobs would be lost to add to the current unemployment.

According to him, the FG is insensitive to the cries of the people, as the project would amount to destruction of businesses and wastage of investments, adding to existing loss of jobs.

He wrote, “Contrary to reason and the necessity for compassion in public policy, the federal government has commenced the controversial Lagos-Calabar coastal highway project.

“The outcry against this project has been overwhelming due to the current situation in the country. However, reports as of yesterday indicate that demolition of businesses and residences in the designated right of way for the project has commenced from the Lagos end.

“The sight of this insensitive demolition is heart-wrenching. Livelihoods are being wiped away, lifetime investments are being wasted, and jobs are disappearing as bulldozers roar through. The homes of the elderly are being overturned by the power of bulldozers.

“This hasty flag-off defies the widespread outcry by the public, especially business and property owners directly affected by the project. Nobody knows the outcry that will accompany this project as it progresses towards poor rural landscapes.

“Thousands of jobs are about to be lost, with investments above $200 million at risk. Over 100,000 jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector face imminent extinction, along with 80 small businesses and their 4000 mostly youth employees.

“At a time of rampant unemployment, the government is embarking on a job-losing project. The economic losses currently observed are primarily limited to the initial kilometres in the Lagos area.

“However, the 700 km stretch of this road will pass through rural regions where affected individuals lack the voice, power, or influence to assert their rights. Significant sections of the public have questioned the process preceding the project’s approval, yet the government remains deaf to reason and caution.

“While acknowledging the economic value of the road, its conception dating back to Tafawa Balewa’s time, several parameters have changed. Insecurity and poverty are rampant, placing this project lower on today’s national priorities.

“It’s time to question the rationale and timing of this and similar projects. The nation is in its worst economic state in history, with poverty and hunger spreading. The basic necessities of life are beyond reach for most Nigerians.

“This is a moment when a committed government cannot embark on non-essential projects. Existing highways urgently need maintenance, and insecurity makes travel unsafe.

“Just a few days ago, many lives were lost, and over 70 vehicles were burned in a fuel tanker explosion that occurred on the East-West Road in Rivers State. This tragic accident was primarily caused by the extremely poor condition of the road, which has been neglected for years and urgently needs attention.

“Our economy is struggling, and our health institutions are ill-equipped. Why embark on an expensive new highway project when there are close to 50 abandoned federal highway projects across the country?

“The urgent necessities are nationwide security, poverty eradication, healthcare, and education, especially for the poor and underprivileged. It’s not too late to discontinue the Lagos-Calabar highway project.

“We cannot afford another expensive abandoned project. Nigeria’s urgent development needs are more real and essential. We do not need landscape decoration escapades.”

However, Umahi defended government’s actions, dismissing claims of inhumanity towards Landmark and accused Obi of spreading misinformation that incites the uninformed population.

Umahi urged people to exercise wisdom and avoid judgmental statements that could lead to trouble, adding he has been personally involved in addressing the project’s concerns.

 

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