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Business tycoon laments as Government plans to demolish his multimillion dollar beach resort

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Foremost business tycoon and real estate developer, Paul Onwuanibe, has raised alarm over the planned demolition of his Landmark Beach Resort by the Lagos State Government in Nigeria.

Onwuanibe, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Landmark Group stressed that receiving a seven-day demolition notice of his property felt like it was an April fool that came early.

The State Government had written the 58-year-old in a letter dated March 19, 2024, signed by the Deputy Director (Development Matters Department) Tpl Shomolu O., on behalf of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, on plans to demolish his property to make way for the coastal highway construction of 103 kilometres stretch of the 700km Lagos-Calabar coastal highway by the Federal Ministry of Works, in collaboration with Lagos State Government.

The sections of the property billed for demolition are the Beach Resort, Kids and Bay Arena, Members Area, and Lagos Beach Club, which the State Government claims falls within the Right of Way of the proposed road project by 50 metres.

Approval for the new coastal road was given on February 27 by the Federal Government. When completed, it is expected to 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 N1.06 trillion highway will be built on Victoria Island. The super highway will run through a total of nine coastal states in Nigeria 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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Onwuanibe said he acquired the land in 2007 before the plans for the coastal highway were drawn up.

He commended the planned coastal project for connecting vital regions of the country but feared it came at a steep cost for tourism in Lagos and posed a threat to foreign direct investment into the country if Landmark Beach is eventually torn down.

“We’ve spent between $80 and $90 million developing this ecosystem and one-third of that was spent on the beach. So, all that, which we are still paying loans on, will disappear,” he said.

Onwuanibe said foreign and local investors in Landmark Group were now threatening to pull out if the beach resort, which includes a mini golf course, a beach soccer field as well as a volleyball and basketball court, is removed.

“Without the beach, the entire ecosystem is at risk and is severely damaged. I have had widespread panic calls from my international and local investors as well as local debt providers, threatening to pull the plug as they think this is material to our survival as a business,” he added.

The beach resort, which is valued at over $200 million, is home to over 80 businesses and provides more than 4,000 direct jobs.

It also generates over N2 billion ($1.5 million) in annual tax revenue.

A key player in Nigeria’s tourism and hospitality industries, the 13-hectare leisure beach of his Landmark Group Plc along the Atlantic Ocean beachfront was listed among Nigeria’s best seven beaches in 2023 by the Lonely Planet travel guide.

It is a top-tier destination visited by about a million local and foreign visitors.

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