Apple Island project: What Banana Island residents’ action tells Nigerians
When on Friday last week a detachment of soldiers ‘invaded’ Banana Island, ostensibly on the orders of the Nigerian Army Properties Limited (NAPL), to take over the estate’s children’s playground and the adjoining recreational area to create an access to their proposed Apple Island project, it was not lost on the residents of that highbrow neighbourhood that trouble was lurking right in their house.
Apple Island is to be developed on 43 hectares of land to be reclaimed from the Lagos Lagoon adjacent to Banana Island, Nigeria’s most exclusive and expensive real estate destination,.
The proposed estate which has the German construction giant, Julius Berger, and Van Oord as main contractors, and Tauraf International Limited as developer, is planned as a mixed-use development that will deliver 100 housing units. Majoroh Partners, the architectural firm that designed the island, says a link-bridge will also be constructed on the island.
But residents of the adjoining Banana Island did not see the workability of an access to the new Island without an encroachment that would involve creating a thoroughfare through their estate. The visibly enraged residents were surprised that the army and its representatives thought it possible for them to forcibly enter the estate, take over private property and build an access to their project.
When Tukur Burutai, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) showed up at the project site Saturday morning, apparently, to flag off construction of the new island, the Banana Island residents did not mince words in telling the army general that building access to their project through the estate would not work.
“Nobody can come here to do a development of this magnitude without letting us know. We are not saying you should not do your development but access to that development is going to be a problem. “Besides, this road is already servicing two estates within. So, allowing another estate use the same road will not augur well for residents of this estate,” Chudi Ubosi, the chairman of the resident’s association told Burutai.
The fear was that if the invading army and their collaborators were allowed, they would build a highway and thoroughfare right in the middle of the estate, deny children of their playground, and open the estate to environmental hazards which follow water displacement that have been the nemesis of some locations not far from the estate.
“This island would lose its ‘virginity and sanctity’ if we allow this kind of development to happen here. We pay so much to live here and to throw this place open by giving access to this development means we have lost the exclusive nature of the estate which we paid for ”, said Wahab Dosumu, a resident.
“If the army has become commercial estate developers, why Banana Island? If it must be this Island, fine; there are still empty plots of land here which they can buy and develop. Why the interest in that particular area we have planned to build our boat club house? This is an invasion and we must resist it”, the angry resident fumed.
Confronted with all these, Burutai was humbled enough to tell the residents that the army would not, for whatever reason, go against their interest. “We will resolve it”, he assured, adding, “nothing is going to happen here without due process; maybe my people are to proactive by doing what is already on ground, but be rest assured that nothing is going to happen against your interest”, he assured.
It was on this note that Burutai ordered NAPL and its collaborators to look for an alternative access to the proposed island project, laying to rest what many had thought would be a futile and risky resistance by the residents of the elite estate.
In many ways, it has been a worthwhile and rewarding protest that has not only demonstrated that a lot of things are possible in Nigeria if the will to ‘fight’ a just cause is there, but also served as a huge lesson for other estates in Lagos such as Victorian Garden City (VGC), Lekki Phase 1, Parkview Estate, and Osborne Foreshore where residents are at the mercy of seasonal inclement weather conditions arising from the unwholesome activities of land speculators and grabbers.
The Banana Island residents have shown that most, if not all, the injustices and bad leadership that Nigerians have endured for ages in this country could be stopped if only the people, using their citizen power, can stand up and say NO and stick out their neck to defend that resolve.
Though some people see the action of the Banana Island residents as a manifestation of elitist and protectionist instinct, the take-away in all of these is that they have been able to chase away an invader who was a mission to violate the peace, quiet ambience and exclusivity of their estate.
July 12, 2017 remains a red letter day in Lagos State when ‘the rich also cried’ from the devastating impact of flooding that submerged all the highbrow neighbourhoods including Victorian Garden City (VGC), Lekki Phase 1, Parkview Estate, and Osborne Foreshore as much as the slum areas. All these are victims of uncontrolled land reclamation and grabbing which is what NAPL and its sponsors are alleged to be out to do.
The residents of these endangered estates can also rise to protect their environment from further degradation by resisting land grabbers who have caused them untold hardship and pain.
BusinessDay checks show that there is no such thing as the so-called Apple Island on the Lagos Masterplan. Besides this, it remains to be ascertained if Tauraf, the main sponsor or its front, NAPL , has carried out the necessary Environmental Impact Assessment before attempting this Aple Island project.
“It is very encouraging that Burutai appreciated the point immediately that there was no Due Diligence carried out by the sponsors of the so-called Apple Island Project, and he was responsible and quick to dissociate himself and the Nigerian Army from such a controversial project that could have caused breakdown of law and order”, an estate developer, who did not want to be named, told BusinessDay.
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