Suspicious Moves by Umahi: The Controversial Lagos-Calabar Coastal Line Project

May 24, 2024 0 Posted By Kaptain Kush

Recently, Engr. Dave Umahi called for a third stakeholders meeting in Lagos to announce a significant change in the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Line project. 

The news that Bola Tinubu‘s government will no longer proceed with the realignment of the coastal line due to submarine network cables owned by telecom companies has raised eyebrows. This decision has profound implications, both financially and politically.

The Realignment Controversy

Umahi cited the presence of submarine cables along the coastline as the reason for halting the project. He said proceeding with the realignment would cut these cables, disrupting network services nationwide. However, beyond the technical concerns, the project’s cost and the impact on existing businesses have been major points of contention.

Demolition and Business Impact

One of the project’s most contentious aspects was the proposed demolition of Landmark Beach and other multi-million Naira businesses in Lagos. Originally, the project’s design did not include these areas. However, Umahi and his team introduced a new design that encroached on these business zones, marking them for demolition.

During the second stakeholders meeting, a female journalist challenged Umahi to present the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approval. The EIA is crucial as it assesses the project’s environmental consequences. Umahi’s hesitant response and subsequent promise to make the EIA public raised suspicions about the project’s transparency.

Lack of Transparency

In the latest stakeholders meeting, Umahi made a surprising U-turn, stating that the EIA would not be revealed to the public, citing the Freedom of Information Act, which allows the government to withhold certain information. This move is particularly suspicious given the public interest in the project and its direct impact on local businesses and communities.

The Forced Demolitions

The government’s forceful approach to demolishing businesses in the area, despite logical claims by the owners that the initial plan did not include their properties, has been alarming. Notices to vacate were quickly issued, and on April 28th, Umahi announced that the demolition had begun. He also mentioned plans to compensate the affected businesses, including Landmark.

Questionable Compensation

In a subsequent stakeholders meeting on May 1st, Umahi claimed that the government had started compensating affected businesses with about N2.75 billion. 

However, Landmark Beach and other verifiably affected businesses were excluded from this compensation. Umahi mentioned two houses owned by Mr. Bolaji as the most affected properties, but there are no media details on the recipients of the compensation.

A Suspicious Turn of Events

In the most recent meeting, Umahi announced that the Lagos-Calabar coastal line would no longer extend to the area where Landmark Beach and other businesses were located. This decision comes after the demolition and displacement of numerous businesses and employees, leading to significant financial loss and job displacement.

Underlying Motives?

The demolition began despite telecom companies informing the government about the submarine cables. This raises questions about whether the project’s disruptions were an honest mistake or if there were other motives. With billions wasted and businesses destroyed, suspicions about the real intentions behind the project are rife. 

Was Tinubu‘s government targeting something other than building a coastal line? Given that the demolished areas are now under federal control and considering who runs the federal government, the motives appear even more questionable.

Conclusion

The saga of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Line project, marked by suspicious decisions, a lack of transparency, and significant financial and social repercussions, has left many questioning the government’s true intentions. 

The displacement of businesses, loss of jobs, and misallocation of funds highlight a need for greater accountability and scrutiny of such large-scale projects.




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