Redefining recreation and tourism with new entertainment hub in Lagos

Lagos

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. 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 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. With the US and Nigeria having similar federal structure, it is believe that 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 Third 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. However, 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, which will require the provision of a shoreline protection and reconstruction of a 2.8km alternative route that will run under the Third Mainland Bridge, along with other infrastructures. 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 that Lagos State is known for as well as investors in the water transportation sector.

The project, Akinsanya explained, 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.

He said, “Motorists who 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 the 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,” he added

Phase three of the project is expected to be state-private sector financed. At this stage, the construction of the mega jetty and bus terminal will roll out on a massive scale and will be complete with entertainment and tourism facilities, including multiple boutiques, hotels, casinos, museums, art galleries, sports and recreational facilities as well as a-1,000 capacity car park.

A project of this magnitude Akinsanya note, will expectedly gulp billions of naira, the bulk of which will have to be generated internally. “This is why the new internally generated revenue drive spear-headed by the Lagos State Ministry of Finance is crucial.

“Part of the campaign is to sensitize stakeholders on a more seamless and convenient way of remitting taxes to the purse of the government, particularly from those in the food and hospitality business like hotels, event centers and restaurants. Overall, sensitizing Lagosians on the need for more commitment to paying taxes will go a long way in actualizing this novel project as well as other developmental initiatives of the state government,” he stated.

Lagos State makes an average of N25 billion from internally generated revenue monthly. However, given the enormity of the infrastructure deficit in the state and imperative of delivering on the people’s expectations, a new tax regime founded on efficiency and plugging of existing loopholes, seems only natural.

A careful review will reveal that several tax laws, both in intent and delivery, have become quite obsolete and in need of an upgrade. The review should help identify areas of inadequacy and simplify complexities in order to make it easy for Lagosians to pay their taxes with ease and without complaints. Further to this, the state government has introduced an e-payment solution that will encourage the easy and quick remittance of taxes to the state’s coffers.

In previous years, the Lagos State government undertook numerous enlightenment campaigns harping on the need for individuals and businesses to pay taxes as part of their civil and statutory responsibilities, knowing that taxation is the bedrock of fundraising to achieve developmental objectives. Lagos focused extensively on internally generated revenue to provide the fund to execute this dream.

Concerted efforts were channeled into providing social amenities, including the revamping of primary health care centers, waste management and disposal, landscaping and beautification, among other social infrastructures, physical infrastructure like roads street lighting and CCTV cameras placed in strategic places, emergency rescue centers, security of lives and properties, among others. Much as these achievements are being applauded, it is obvious that more needs to be done to meet the goal of the transformation of Lagos state.

Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, Governor 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 agenda.

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 Governor 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.”

In this article:
Akinwunmi AmbodeLagos State
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