…As new multi-billion-naira mall boosts tourism, jobs in Badagry
The people of Badagry area of Lagos came out in their numbers on April 12 to witness the ground-breaking ceremony of Oba Akran International Shopping Mall.
The multi-billion-naira mall, which is sited in the heart of Badagry Town, has since thrown the indigenes into euphoria. It is the first market of such magnitude to be built in the area. It promises to provide sophisticated services that the existing Agbalata Market in the area lacks.
Although the shopping mall would actually take off in two years’ time, it is expected to immediately engage thousands of unemployed persons in the community and beyond as work commences on the site. It is also targeted at boosting the tourist attractions of Badagry and its environs.
Apart from empowering the grassroots, the mall, which is estimated to gulp N18 billion in its construction, would also enhance trading activities among people of West Africa.
As guests settled down for the business of the day, the Metonu Akere Cultural Troupe, an all-male group, took the stage. In the scorching sun, they sang and danced out their hearts to the admiration of the audience.
Shortly after the dance, the Akran of Badagry, De Wheno Aholu Meno-Toyi, described the proposed mall as a Dubai-like market for the African continent. He expressed delight that the 93-acre mall was named after him and the traditional institution of the town.
He said he had no doubt that the project would contribute meaningfully and speedily to the infrastructural development of the community.
The N18 billion budgeted by Palmnto Nigeria Limited, a consortium of investors and developers, as well as the Badagry Royal House, is for the first phase, which includes lock-up shops, plazas/offices, warehouses, commercial banks, a fire service station, clinics, a police post and petrol stations. There would also be a housing estate, a five-star hotel, schools, and so on.
He called on more investors, individuals and corporate bodies to key into the project, saying that the design of the mall was broad enough to accommodate everyone’s interest.
In a letter he personally signed, former President Olusegun Obasanjo commended the Oba of the community for his patriotic spirit and commitment to the ideals of social responsibility.
“As you reflect on your life, you have every cause to thank God for your many blessings and achievements. By all measure, you have lived a worthwhile life of service to your community in particular and the nation in general. The nation expects further contributions from you, especially in guiding the younger generation in the ideals of patriotism, loyalty and diligence,” the letter read in part.
A member of the community, who identified himself as Labi, advised those handling the project to deliver it on time and make the rent affordable for the average trader.
Mr. Andrew Okpara who represented Chief Anthony Ushagwu, president-general of Amalgamated Traders Association, assured the initiators of the association’s support.
He pleaded with the people of the community to always accept and accommodate non-indigenes so that the idea behind the mall could be fully realised. He promised to mobilise his members to promote and invest in the project till it becomes a melting pot for traders in the state.
“I want to assure the Oba of this community and every other stakeholder that members of our association are fully behind this initiative. As most of you know, the Igbo are gifted in trading. We shall bring that gift here and make this place a huge success. All we are asking is the cooperation of the community members to create an atmosphere needed for business to thrive,” he said.
Performing the foundation-laying ceremony, Hon. Setonji David of the Lagos State House of Assembly, who represented the Speaker, Mudasiru Obasa, described the initiative as a welcome development that would improve the standard of living in Badagry.
He called on all stakeholders to give the necessary support needed for the work to be executed smoothly by the developer.
A director at Palmnto, Jide Adefeso, said he embarked on the project two years ago, having received a divine revelation to do so.
In his words, according to the master plan, the external facilities in the mall include well-planned road networks, paved walkways, electrification, water supply with treatment plant, refuse disposal system, CCTV camera/security system, car parking lots, etc.
He further painted a picture of world-class facilities to be provided in the mall. He boasted that the project, when completed, would become a reference point by professionals in the construction industry.
Adefeso described the investment as a leap towards economic prosperity in the town. He said people travelling through the community from other West African countries to buy and sell all sorts of goods in different parts of Nigeria would no longer have to travel far tor such transactions.
“The revelation came to me through my pastor that I would be part of the people that will develop Badagry. God has smiled on this project. Investors are coming from all over the world; they have indicated their interest and are very enthusiastic about the prospect,” he said.
The managing director of Palmnto, Kalu Okorafor, thanked all the partners for the confidence reposed in the company and pledged not to disappoint them as the project progresses.
In his words, much potential had been left untapped in Badagry for too long. He said the deep seaport close to where the mall is sited would be an added advantage to ship goods across the West African coast.
He said the project would surpass other international markets operating in the state.
“We assure investors that, profit-wise, we are in for a win-win situation. We thank the investors and other partners for believing in us and sharing in this broad vision,” he said.
Meanwhile, the people of the area used the opportunity to call on Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to fix the failed portions of the major roads leading to the community so that there would be ease in doing business.
The event was well-attended by businessmen, politicians, traditional and religious rulers, who described the project as a breath of fresh air in the community.