We are in the normal bumper to bumper traffic along the busy streets of Lagos. Ayo expertly steers our black KIA around the yellow painted vans crammed with passengers known as Danfo buses. He zips past some equally bright three-wheeled Tuk-Tuks and then outmaneuvers the myriad of mopeds and other assorted cars and SUVs which manage to spread out across every inch of asphalt – all at the same time.
We reach our destination and Ayo turns the KIA off of the clogged street, past a few bored security guards and onto an unpaved road devoid of traffic. Before us: a vast expanse of white sand stretches to the Atlantic coast.
This is not a public beach. It’s a working construction site for a daunting planned development known as Eko Atlantic. Dredgers are working around the clock to fill the area with sand and create a brand new island that – according to its website – will be home and workplace to more than 250,000 people.
The project began in earnest in 2005 and the managing director of South Energyx Nigeria Limited, the firm responsible for the project , predicts the “The first residential tower will open in 2016.”
Design renderings for the completed ten-square kilometer (3.86 sq mi) mixed use development showcase tony waterfronts, leisure facilities, retail shops, upscale offices and “tree-lined streets with efficient transport systems.”
Today in 2014, Ayo and I see signs of underground surface drainage pipes and the beginnings of roadway infrastructure.
We watch a few minutes while gigantic dump trucks move mountains of sand. Then Ayo slowly merges back into the busy streets. These are not lined with trees, but rather teeming with vehicles and people of all shapes and sizes.
I look out of the window as we leave Eko Atlantic. In spite of its present problems, Nigeria is clearly envisioning – and working toward – an improved tomorrow.
And speaking of tomorrow- tomorrow I will present as part of a panel at a Nigeria Infrastructure Building Conference. I look forward to hearing the other participants’ visions and plans.
In gratitude for this experience here in Lagos,
P.S. Do you know about Nigeria’s Eko Atlantic project? What do you think? Look forward to hearing from you!