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‘I’ll Sm0ke and Go Mad’ — How a Frustrated Chef Wants to Handle Landmark Beach Resort Demolition

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‘I’ll Sm0ke and Go Mad’ — How a Frustrated Chef Wants to Handle Landmark Beach Resort Demolition

Nigeria is a place where someone can wake up one day and say, “Let’s build a road across the biggest tourism beachfront area in Lagos just because we feel like.” –Tayo Aina

How would you feel if your business of more than two decades was suddenly at the mercy of the government?

You may have seen, read or heard the news that the federal and Lagos State governments plan to construct a 700-kilometre Lagos-Calabar coastal road. Good news, right? Not quite. This news has generated a lot of heat for some days. The bone of contention is not the proposed road but the fact that some parts of Landmark Beach Resort are to be demolished to make way for it.

Some of the sections listed for demolition by the Lagos government are the Beach Resort, Kids and Bay Arena, Members Area and Lagos Beach Club. The government said the facilities were located within the right of way of the proposed road by 50 metres.

This reporter found that Landmark Group purchased the beachfront property in 2007 before the coastal road was conceived in 2012, and the whole ecosystem is at risk without the beach.

Paul Onwuanibe, the CEO of Landmark Africa, revealed in a post on his X page on April 6 that his company was already in talks with the federal and Lagos governments to work out a win-win solution.

 

Landmark Beach Resort Photo Credit: Abimbola Abatta//FIJ
Landmark Beach Resor Photo Credit: Abimbola Abatta//FIJ

Landmark Beach Resort, valued at over $200 million, accommodates more than 80 businesses and provides over 4,000 direct jobs, Onwuanibe recently told CNN in an interview.

To know how the looming demolition would impact workers, vendors and fun seekers if it became a reality, our reporter visited Landmark Beach on Tuesday. As many shared their fears and concerns with this reporter, one thing was certain: if the government eventually pulls down the listed sections of Landmark Beach, people will lose their jobs, income and comfort.

When this reporter walked towards the beach area around 10:30 am after buying a ticket, there were only a few fun seekers around. She would later learn from some workers that this was because it was a weekday and quite early. But before she left in the afternoon, the beach that seemed deserted that morning was becoming crowded.

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As the reporter left the ticketing area down a narrow path with several signboards to direct visitors to the beach area, she could not help but marvel at the numerous businesses and vibrating sounds of machines at work on the site. Blocks behind the beach was a huge edifice under construction. Workers were busy with work and visitors were engrossed with fun activities.

There were tractors on the shore behind the beach and vessels close to the shore area. One of the workers at the Landmark site claimed that the vehicles were there to fill up the water with sand. “Those are working vessels filling the water with sand. They have been doing this for long. They want to fill up everything with sand,” the worker told this reporter.

FEAR AND WORRY GRIP WORKERS

Toye (real name withheld), who wore a yellow t-shirt, sat on a picnic bench under a canopy when I walked up to him. The reporter found that he’s a cleaner who earns N50,000 a month and has been working there for some months.

He said he would have to look for a job elsewhere if the worst happened. This, to him, would be difficult, as he revealed that “getting a job these days is not a joke”.

“If they close the beach, it is going to affect us. But so far, there hasn’t been any announcement or notice from the company itself. It’s just what we have been reading and hearing in the news. The government said they gave Landmark seven days to shut down, but the timeframe has passed since. We don’t know what is going to happen. The management has not said anything to workers, but there is a growing fear among workers,” Toye disclosed.

Some vendors’ stalls Credit: Abimbola Abatta//FIJ

‘DON’T TELL ME YOU WANT TO CLOSE DOWN JOBS’

Chima (real name withheld), a young man who works as a chef with one of the vendors on the beach, sat in front of his stand with two other men when this reporter approached. He could not fathom why the government would want to destroy Onwuanibe’s property.

He has been working there for more than two years, with some breaks in between. He said thousands of people had their businesses and sources of livelihood there, which would become non-existent if the resort ceased to exist.

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“Many people have invested in this place, too. No matter the compensation the government wants to give, it cannot compare with the time, energy and resources that people have invested here. How much do they want to give them that will be enough? Will it cover the revenue businesses make in this location? It will never be enough. This place has existed for over 20 years; why does the government want to damage the business?

“To show you how useless the government is, it is now that they want to start building a road. Why now? Why did they not build it before now? They want to start what they cannot finish. They just wake up one day and want to destroy properties and companies. They said they wanted to build a road. A road for what?

“Companies outside are not giving jobs. This man [Onwuanibe] has helped people a lot. If you check the vendors’s stand, you will not see one person working in one stand. Many workers are there. All thanks to this man, and now they are trying to close down the beach, a place that has provided jobs to many people like me.

“It will not affect the CEO alone. It will affect us, too. Many graduates are outside looking for jobs. We will now join them in searching for jobs that are not available. We will now become more job seekers. The government is not creating jobs for people. Tell me you want to create jobs for people; don’t tell me you want to close jobs. The government can join hands with the man to build more companies so that people outside can get something to do.”

 

The beach Photo Credit: Abimbola Abatta//FIJ

‘WHERE ARE WE GOING TO START FROM?’

Chima fears that workers will have to start all over again and he may become a liability if he’s out of a job. He described the planned demolition as a threat to his survival, which, according to him, was capable of impairing his mental health.

Where are the cleaners, those cleaning the road, going to start from? Those of us selling food items, where do they want us to start from? For me, it is either I go back to my state or go back to my brother’s house and just become a liability to him at my age. Am I going forward or backward like that?

“I am supposed to have two people that I’m taking care of, but I can’t because the money I am even earning is not enough. Our government is just foolish, especially those advising them. See the many roads they have been constructing for years that they have not completed.

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“The government’s planned action is threatening me. It is threatening us. Where do they want me to start from? I am working now, but I can’t even eat morning, afternoon and night. And now, there is a possibility that I might be out of work. I will just start smoking and drinking. And all of a sudden, I will become mad. They will say maybe it’s my village people, but they won’t know it is the government.”

WHAT DO FUN SEEKERS THINK?

A female fun seeker, who came to the resort with her partner, said it was not a good idea to have the resort partially demolished because it would rob her of comfort.

“For me, I do not think it is a good idea because this is about the closest to the Island, and it’s like taking away my comfort. In fact, we had to summon the courage to come here because what was showing on Google was demolished, demolished, so we were not so sure. I guess that’s also why there are not many people here. It took us plenty of courage to even branch here. We wanted to go to Oniru, but we thought we should see what’s going on here first,” she revealed.

Funseekers at Landmark Beach. Photo Credit: Abimbola Abatta//FIJ

A group of three women also told the press that although they preferred Landmark Beach because it was the most affordable beach in the area, they would seek an alternative if it ceased to exist.

One of them said: “Landmark is actually the cheapest of the three beaches around here for now. That’s it. We are not really passionate about the news. We go where the wind goes.”

“We don’t care, actually. It does not concern us. We will seek fun elsewhere if this place is demolished,” said another.

Editor’s Note: Landmark Beach is only six years old, as it celebrated its fifth anniversary last year.

 

FIJ

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