Las Vegas is dubbed the entertainment capital of the world. It is known for its ever-glowing energy, round-the-clock casinos and unnumbered entertainment facilities that play host to millions of visitors from across the world every year. It is also famous for having numerous elegant hotels, including the world-famous Venetian and the pyramid-shaped Luxor.
Las Vegas is located in Nevada, a mountainous state in the United States of America (USA) that includes vast semiarid grasslands and sandy alkali deserts. Nevada is in fact the most arid state in the US. According to the American Gaming Association, a Washington DC-based trade association, casinos in Las Vegas generated over $52billion to the Nevada economy in 2013. In addition, the study also found out that Nevada casinos supported over 25,000 jobs and generated about $7.9billion in tax revenues to the local, state and federal governments. The US has similar federal structure as Nigeria.
The success of Nevada and the position it occupies in the global entertainment and tourism map is indicative of what tax revenues and a visionary government can do for a state, bringing jobs, social and physical infrastructure to the region.
Lagos state stands a good chance of achieving a similar feat. Currently ongoing is a massive reclamation work at the Oworonshoki waterfront, a blighted area located at the ascent of the 3rd Mainland Bridge, from the Mainland. The area has been earmarked as the location for the biggest transportation, tourism and entertainment hub in Nigeria.
According to its planners, on completion, the place is expected to redefine entertainment as it would play host to millions of visitors, greatly boost socio-economic activities in Oworonshoki and indeed the entire state, as well as generate millions of US dollars in revenue to the coffers of the state.
Due to the enormity of the project and to meet the set timelines, the state government has outlined a three-phased project period within a stipulated time frame from start to completion. Phase one is currently underway with the reclamation of the 29.5 hectares of land needed for the project. This was expected to have been completed by the end of November 2017. Because it is a reclaimed land, an additional period of six to nine months will be given for consolidation and settlement, as well as revetment of the shoreline in order to protect the jetty area and eliminate illegal dredging activities. All this is expected to set the pace for the commencement of phase two.
Phase two will require the provision of a shoreline protection and reconstruction of a 2.8km alternative route that will run under the 3rd Mainland Bridge, along with other infrastructure. This is expected to be completed in less than nine months from the end of 2017 up to June 2018, according to the original plan.
According to the former Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure Development, Engr. Adebowale Akinsanya, the proposed entertainment hub is expected to attract tourists in droves to partake in the hospitality which Lagos State is known for as well as investors in the water transportation sector. The project, according to Akinsanya, will improve the aesthetics and security of the environment, including the provision of shopping malls and related infrastructure. Also included in the site will be a mega ferry terminal, which is expected to help ease human and vehicular traffic gridlocks away from Lagos Island. Motorists who would prefer to drive rather than take a ferry to the Island can as well take the alternative route. In addition, the place will be easily accessible to Apapa port, Ikeja airport and other parts of the State. Commuters can decide to drive to the terminal, park their vehicles and catch a state-of-the-art ferry to their various destinations.
One of the objectives of the project is to revitalize and augment the inter-modal system of water, rail and road transportation, which includes the waterfronts in Epe, Badagry and Mile 2; housing projects, world class sports and recreational facilities, as well as emergency response facilities that will have first responders to emergencies on site.
Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, the current Akinwunmi Ambode-led government has also embarked on an aggressive drive to make Lagos State the megacity everyone desires. The entertainment hub in Oworoshoki very well fits into the trajectory of actualizing a megacity. On completion, it is expected to provide jobs for thousands of people and like Las Vegas, contribute huge revenues to the coffers of Lagos State from which the welfare of Lagosians will be catered for.
Much like Las Vegas, Dubai and indeed other places with a thriving tourism industry, it is the hope of the state that the Oworonshoki waterfront project will attract investors to the state and project the state as the go-to destination for fun seekers not just for Africans but for millions of people from all over the world. If Nevada, an arid region can become the entertainment capital of the world, then Lagos state, a coastal and thriving cosmopolitan city with over 20 million people should be able to shoot for the stars.
Taking a excerpt from an article authored by the chief security officer of the state, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, titled, ‘My Random Thoughts’, he said, “The economy is not doing as well as we want it to. We cannot tax the people any more than we are doing presently, but we have to become more efficient in tax collection because that is the major source of revenue with which we can protect the future, as well as improve the welfare and well-being of all Lagosians.”
*Okwudili is a social analyst and a PR consultant