By Jude Njoku
For many Lagos residents, the name Dolphin Estate Ikoyi rings a bell as one of the abodes for the affluent in Nigeria’s “Centre of Excellence”. But for those who have visited the estate, the picture is that of two different worlds – luxury and squalor.
To make way for the construction of the estate, the dilapidated Jakande Housing Estate at Ijeh was demolished because it constituted an eyesore and degraded the neighbourhood. LSDPC first built two and three-bedroom flats in eight blocks of pre-fabricated high-rise buildings to accommodate those who were displaced by the demolition.
Dolphin Phase I which was targeted at the upper medium income class consists of 646 duplexes of four bedrooms, each with an area of 150m². The total built up area in this phase is 102,068m².
First phase of the scheme
After successfully completing the first phase of the scheme in 1991, HFP was awarded the construction of Phase II of the estate. This phase included 236 four bedroom duplexes, 440 three bedroom flats and 136 flats of two bedrooms each. The project was completed in 1997. In both phases of the Dolphin development, H.F.P. was responsible for the entire infrastructure: sand filling, power, water supply, sewage systems, roads, pavements, fences, drainage and street illumination.
Unlike the low-rise section of Dolphin Estate where you have the duplexes, infrastructures in the high-rise section of the estate where you have the flats are in decrepit conditions. The drainage channels are blocked while the paved roads have packed up, thereby giving room for the estate to be flooded at the slightest drop of rain water. The spiral staircases leading into the block of flats have also become dilapidated. Vanguard learnt that most residents who parted with huge sums of money to buy properties in the estate, now see it as a wrong investment. Reason? The barracks-like pre-fabricated high-rise buildings apart from becoming a ghetto of sorts, have been turned into hideouts for criminals and other societal miscreants. Put succinctly, the estate is poorly managed and maintained.
Angered by this ugly scenario, the Dolphin Residents Association in 2013, sent a save our soul (S.O.S.) appeal to the Lagos State Government to intervene and assist in restoring the lost glory of what ordinarily should be classified as a highbrow estate in view of its location. Ikoyi which is regarded as the haven for the upper income class, should have no place for the down-trodden who are just managing to eke out a living.
Although the highbrow section of Dolphin Estate is gated and has a police station, security is still a grave source of concern to many residents of the estate. Recall that it was at Dolphin Estate that a PDP stalwart, Mr. Funsho Williams was murdered on July 27, 2006. Vanguard learnt that security in the estate has been highly compromised as a result of the exit gate from Obalande through Abacha Estate and Ijeh Police Barracks. The shopping complex built by HFP in the estate is believed to be attracting all manner of persons into the estate. Vanguard recalls that residents waged a spirited battle against the construction of the mall because it was built upon an open space meant for a playground.
Dolphin still attractive
Despite its perceived shortcomings, Dolphin Estate still commands high rental value. Immediate past Chairman of the Lagos State branch of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, NIESV, Pastor Stephen Jagun who described Dolphin as a buffer between Ikoyi and the mainland, explained that property values in the estate are still on the very high side. According to him, those who cannot afford to live in Ikoyi because of the high cost, end up looking for accommodation in Dolphin. A duplex he said, goes for an annual rent of between N2.5- 3 million in Dolphin Estate.