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Mixed Reactions As Lagos Set To Demolish Landmark Beach Resort For Coastal Highway

When Lagos state authorities notified Nigerian business mogul Paul Onwuanibe in late March that he had seven days to leave his multimillion-dollar beach resort so it could be torn down, he thought it was an April Fools’ Day hoax come early.

Onwuanibe, 58, was told in a government letter that his Landmark Beach resort – a top-tier destination visited, he says, by about a million local and foreign visitors last year – had to be removed as it “falls within the right of way” of a planned 700-kilometer (435-mile) coastal highway designed to link the former capital city to Calabar, a port city near the border with Cameroon.

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Onwuanibe told CNN he had obtained the land in 2007 before the plans for the coastal highway were drawn up, and felt a mix of emotions after receiving the demolition order, which also urged him to file compensation claims.

“One was amazement, second was concern and the third one was, ‘is this real or is this an April Fools’ (Day prank in) advance?’”

Valued at over $200 millio[/b]n, according to Onwuanibe, [b]the Landmark site is home to over 80 businesses and provides more than 4,000 direct jobs. It also generates over 2 billion naira ($1.5 million) in annual tax revenue, the company said.

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Approval for the new coastal road was given on February 27 by the federal authorities, according to presidential aide Temitope Ajayi. He said on social media that the superhighway, “when completed, will enter the world record books among iconic coastal routes like the Wild Atlantic Highway in Ireland and the Pacific Coastal Highway in the United States.”

The first part of the 1.06 trillion naira ($841 million-plus) highway will be built in Victoria Island. The superhighway will run through a total of nine coastal states in Nigeria, Ajayi added, and will have “five lanes on each side of the dual carriageway and a train track in the middle,” as well as spurs linking up with northern Nigeria.

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Environmentalists say that, while the coastal road project would bolster the economy, it also poses environmental problems.

“It’s undeniable that the road construction will bring about significant impacts such as the destruction of wetlands, forests, and various habitats,” said Lagos-based water and environment consultant Similade Adeodun. “Activities like sand filling and dredging along the coastal areas also raise concerns,” he told CNN.

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