Eko Atlantic, the visionary new city for Lagos, Nigeria drew high-level presidential praise from both the Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan and the former President of the United States of America, Bill Clinton during a dedication ceremony to mark a milestone event.
Describing the development of Eko Atlantic as an outstanding initiative President Jonathan said, 'This landmark event is continuing the good news narrative that Nigeria must now embrace permanently. You cannot be hearing only ugly stories. Eko Atlantic City is bringing us happiness and this happiness has come to stay.'
Eko Atlantic land reclamation started in February 2008 with a 7-year dredging operation planned to create 8,000 square metres of new land every day.
A year after reclamation work began the Chagoury Group, the developers and planners of Eko Atlantic, based in Lagos, Nigeria, committed at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York to protect Victoria Island from coastal erosion through the forces of the Atlantic Ocean.
Since making their commitment the developers have built a sea revetment known as The Great Wall of Lagos that now stands at three and a half kilometres. Half the land needed to build the new city has been recovered from the ocean.
'They have reclaimed five million square metres of land from the sea. They have built the beginnings of this amazing wall. They have kept their commitment and it will help to diversify the economy of Nigeria, to brand Lagos all over the world and to create an enormous number of opportunities. I am convinced that within five years people will be coming from everywhere just to look at the wall.'
The Great Wall has brought back the coastline of Victoria Island to where it was a century ago before coastal erosion began to wash it away.
'This is an ingenious engineering feat,' said President Clinton, This is something I am telling you there will be countless numbers of people coming here to study. It is something you can be very proud of.'
The Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Raji Fashola hosted the dedication ceremony close to the massive sea revetment that protects the five million square metres of land. 'When all is done, a new city will emerge here from what was once a devastated area as a result of nature's onslaught, said Governor Fashola. 'But that devastation is now history. Our ultimate triumph beckons,' he said, 'the human spirit will prevail because of the goodwill of a few good men.'
The dedication ceremony was attended by high-ranking Nigerian Federal and State officials as well as international developers, financial institutions and the diplomatic corps.
In his address, the Executive Chairman of Eko Atlantic, Mr. Ronald Chagoury , said, "Nigeria is a great nation. Building a city of this calibre can only be achieved by putting our hands together. Today we are at a turning point where the real construction of the city has started." And he added, "Today Lagos is the economic capital of Nigeria. We pray by your blessing Mr. President, to become the economic and financial centre of Africa in the near future".
The construction of infrastructure for Eko Atlantic, such as roads, drainage and sewage systems has also started as has foundation work for Eko Atlantic's first commercial tower block. An international developer, Satellite Oil and Gas from Nigeria, has started to build Eko Energy Estate and numerous other projects are in the pipeline.
Upon completion, the developers and city planners of the new city will have produced 10,000,000 square metres of land, ripe for development: equivalent in size to the skyscraper district of Manhattan in New York City.
Eko Atlantic is designed to provide the space and infrastructure to house 250,000 people and become the workplace for a further 150,000.