Life in Lagos Island

01 Dec 2012

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Living in posh Lagos neighbourhoods such as Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Lekki and Ajah comes with its thrill and challenges. Bennett Oghifo highlights some of these

Many people in Lagos dream of living a high society lifestyle which is apparent on the Lagos Island but it remains a tall dream for a good number. Famous for being a bustling hub of commerce, coupled with the tall and luxury apartments therein, living as well as doing business on the Lagos Island is considered a status symbol. It is meant for the movers and shakers of the society and it is comparable to living in any major European or first world country.

Lagos Island is home to numerous world-class shopping plazas, clubs, supermarkets, pharmacies, fashion houses, boutiques, saloons among others. With its classy and serene environment, most of the residents describe Lagos Island as being quiet and peaceful. According to Temitope Oladotun, a real estate valuer that lives in Ajah “Lagos Island has one of the lowest crime rate in the state. It has a very well educated and enlightened group of residents.” Speaking on the beautiful environment and structures on the Island, Emeka Nduba, an architect, explains that illegal structures do not spring up easily on Lagos Island especially Lekki area of the Island with the present transformation of the road networks. He added that the resident associations which are conservative quickly rise to save the situation and put a stop to construction of any illegal structure.

Bassey Udo, an engineer, says that Lagos Island is a splendid place to live or work, adding that “it is composed of very modern buildings that befit its status as very comfortable place to live.” 

A Lekki resident (an actress) who pleaded anonymity says that living on the Island is the best as one can live a secluded and free life without any interference from neighbours. According to her, “with many luxury apartments, there isn’t shortage of comfortable accommodation if you can beat the price. Surrounded by neighbours of like-mind, nobody cares to intrude into your affairs. It is a place for those who have focus and have no time for gossips. You may not even know your neighbour.”

Living it up…
In addition to the above assertions, Ayo Badejo sees Lagos Island as perfect environment where “one can live, work and unwind in good clubs after hectic days.” He praised the almost uninterrupted power and water supply but hinted on the bad road networks which he said is not impressive and can be very disappointing during rainy season. He praised the level of security on the Island, adding that one could sleep peacefully with two eyes closed. Meanwhile, Chika Mbadugha, a student, describes Lagos Island as a place for the high and mighty in Lagos state, stressing that owing a car is imperative on the Island because transportation fare is high and that commercial transportation on the Island is different from most parts of the Metropolis. Commercial buses and motorcycles are forbidden in most estates there on the Island, while taxis which have access charge exhorbitant fares.

For those who dream to live on the Lagos Island but are yet to achieve that, it might not come easy, but it is achievable says Stella Davies an estate surveyor. Start doing something about it no matter how small. Build your confidence; you must not necessarily have a lot of money to live a good life she submitted.

Lagos Island should not seen as a sort of paradise, because it is not. In every population or community there is always a streak of poverty. The island has its share of poor communities from where services are rendered.

About the Island…
Victoria Island was originally entirely surrounded by water - bordered by the Atlantic ocean on the south, the mouth of the Lagos Lagoon on the West, the Five Cowrie Creek to the north North and swamps on the East. The colonial government began the process of filling in the eastern swamps to reduce mosquito breeding areas. This created a land bridge between Victoria Island and Lekki Peninsula ending its existence as a true island. After independence, successive state governments expanded this development, culminating in the construction of a highway connecting Victoria Island to Epe. This activity, along with the rapid commercialisation of Victoria Island, served to stimulate residential development along the Lekki-Epe corridor, starting with Lekki Phase 1.

The area of Land Bridge, composed of the former swampland (which was called Maroko) became a large slum which housed many of the new migrants to Lagos State. Residents of the Island complained about this problem, leading the then military Governor of the State – Raji Rasaki – to forcibly remove/displace these squatters (some of whom had legal title to their property). This area – called Victoria Island Annex – was then cleared and sold to residential buyers. Subsequent reclamation has expanded this area to the extent that it is now connected to the Lekki Peninsula. This new, enlarged area is referred to as “Oniru Estate” after the ruling family of the area.

Originally designated an upscale residential area, failing infrastructure and overcrowding in the old business district on Lagos Island and lax zoning enforcement in Victoria Island led to a mass migration of businesses over the last twenty-five years. Today, Victoria Island is one of Nigeria’s busiest centres of banking and commerce, with most major Nigerian and international corporations headquartered on the Island.

Victoria Island is one of the most exclusive and expensive areas to live in Nigeria. The cost of renting an apartment with luxurious amenities ranges from $48,000 to $85,000 per annum. Due to the array of world-class restaurants, shopping malls, hotels, bars, night clubs, movie theatres, schools and businesses located in VI, investing in property is a lucrative business.

The Island has continued to rapidly develop and along with Ikoyi is a favourite spot for Nigerians and foreigners to live and play.
However the influx of banks and other commercial ventures has changed the formerly serene atmosphere of the Island. Longtime residents complain about the increase in traffic and influx of street traders who cater to local bank employees and businessmen.

Originally designed to be a residential area for the expatriate community by the British colonial governments of late 1800s to early 1950s, Ikoyi Lagos Nigeria is presently home to Expatriate workers mainly in the oil and gas industry as well as diplomats and many leading local business executives and government appointees.

Ikoyi by African standards is one of the most opulent and well developed towns (only in terms of real estate, since road networks and electricity supply are not so impressive) on the continent housing some of Africa’s leading upper middle class residents.

Contrasting picture exclusive to the high and mighty of Lagos society, Ikoyi represents one of the best examples of aplenty amidst squalor. Why? Because close by is Obalende, a commercial area with many slums and landmarks that remind you of poverty.
Onikan is also a boundary town with Ikoyi and houses the famous Race course, city mall and the MUSON centre. Sometimes these places might be regarded as part of Ikoyi.

However, Ikoyi Lagos Nigeria is a splendid place to live or work in. Firstly, it is composed of very modern buildings that befit its status as very comfortable place to live.

Indeed, with many luxury apartments, there isn’t a shortage of comfortable accommodation if you can beat the price. Places like Banana Island, Park view estate, Niger Towers have very high rental and purchasing costs for housing.

Imagine paying as much as $80,000 per annum for a 3 bed room apartment, and there are still many like that littered in Ikoyi, however others like Dolphin estate are less expensive but still beyond the reach of even many middle class families.

It is also home to numerous shopping plazas including the Kingsway shopping centre, Dolphin estate shopping centre, Golden Gate Plaza and city mall located in Onikan. A large number of fashion houses, boutiques, salons and clothing stores can be found on the busy Awolowo way.

Also the Lagos polo Club and Ikoyi club are other landmarks in the town. A number of observations can be made about this town such as road networks. Most of the roads in Ikoyi were constructed in colonial times, and as is expected are very narrow.

Many of them were last rehabilitated in the 80s and can be very disappointing during the rainy season. Also other infrastructure like street lights, constant water and electricity supply are poor.

Also commercial transportation in Ikoyi Lagos Nigeria is different from most parts of the metropolis as dedicated commercial buses convey passengers to various parts. In certain parts of Ikoyi like Park view, Osborne road, Dolphin estate and Banana Island, there is a ban on all commercial vehicles except Taxis.

Most of Ikoyi is quiet and peaceful. It has one of the lowest crime rates in the state, and has a very well educated and enlightened group of residents. Illegal structures do not spring up easily in Ikoyi as the residents associations which are known to be dogged and conservative will quickly rise to the occasion and put a stop to it.

In Ikoyi, owning a house and car is wise because transportation and house rent is high with retail stores selling expensive items most local residents will prefer to do their shopping in nearby Obalende or even come down to the mainland. Living in Ikoyi is comparable to living in any major European or first world country.

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