Environmental impact of Lagos multi-billion naira shopping malls

Mega Plaza

Mega Plaza

Business owners lament effects on open markets

Although, the emergence of shopping malls across Lagos metropolis have no doubt changed the way Lagosians live, stakeholders are however concerned that  recent trend has affected open markets negatively.

According to them, while it is proper to modernize markets and other centres of commerce in Lagos State, however, in doing so, legal rights and economic interests of marketers and traders ought not be sacrificed, abused or disregarded.

These malls valued at over N100 billion have become regular features in the state amidst concerns of both economic and environmental effects.

Only recently, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State pledged his commitment to create an enabling environment for investors as a way of creating jobs for youths in the state while receiving a delegation of Walmart Incorporated, a leading global brand in retail supermarket.

According to him, the presence of the brand in Lagos will go a long way, not only to create jobs for teeming youths, but also boost the economy of the state noting that the success story of the brand, which currently operates in 28 countries with over 2.2 million employees, would be beneficial to the growth of the state.

According to Managing Director of UACN Property Development Company (UPDC), Ogunniran, Lagos can effectively hold 20 malls.

“Johannesburg, with a population of four to five million people has substantially more malls than Lagos. Lagos with 17-20million could presumably take up to 20-25 malls” he said.

Before now, Lagos was replete with open markets, which included supermarkets.

That is not so any more as the state is now doted with several shopping malls running into billions of Naira.

But with over seven of such malls, Lagos is today renowned for malls and shopping centres like,  Ikeja City Mall (Ikeja), E-Centre (Yaba), Adeniran Ogunsanya Shopping Mall (Surulere), Silverbird Galleria (Victoria Island) and Palms Mall (Lekki) and the Lekki Mall at the intersection of Lekki-Epe Expressway and Springville Road.

The completion of Old Maryland Plaza on Ikorodu Road in the Maryland area of Lagos as well as upcoming Nigerian Police Cooperative Multi-purpose center known as the Oasis Center Ikeja along the Mobolaji Bank-Anthony opposite the Police College, Ikeja are the  new additions.

Also In Ikeja alone, there are Ikeja Shopping Mall, along Obafemi Awolowo Way; Ikeja Shopping Mall [Shoprite] in the heart of Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos State; Trinity Shopping Mall along Obafemi Awolowo Way, Ikeja; Cash & Carry Electronics Shopping Mall, and other shopping malls on Allen Avenue Ikeja.

There is also the Royal Gardens Estate, directly facing Lekki-Epe expressway, close to the Pan Atlantic University, Lagos Business School, Lakowe Lakes Golf Estate, with an estimated completion date of 2017.

The project which  was estimated to gulp N29 billion in construction on a 64,000 square meters (30,000 square meters letting space) is expected to be the biggest shopping mall in Nigeria.

But these malls, which bring the right social etiquette in us, to the extent of dressing up just to buy a few items and   hangout zones for soft drink and a range of retail outlets come with it devastating effect on open markets.

Instructively, in major cosmopolitan cities of the world, including London in the United Kingdom, and New York, open markets exist side by side with shopping malls and complexes, providing alternative sources of livelihood for traders and alternative sources of buying goods for people.

According to John D. Macomber of the Harvard Business School, the problems created by rampant urbanization are among the most important challenges of our time. They also represent one of the greatest opportunities and responsibilities for the private sector.

Business is uniquely positioned to shape the sustainable, economically competitive cities of the future.

However, the recent 35-year-old leasehold granted a private developer for Alade market in Allen Avenue, Ikeja, has pitched the state government with traders, who described it as a ploy to force open markets out of Ikeja and replace them with shopping malls.

Last year, the Lagos State Government said there was no going back on its plan to redevelop the Alade Market into a N6.9 billion mega-shopping mall.

The contract for the redevelopment of the market   was granted in 2010 to Master Reality International Concepts Ltd, which is investing N6.9 billion on the project under a 30-year concession on a Build, Own and Transfer (BOT) basis.
Traders at the market had continued to clash with government officials over the latter’s plans to forcibly eject them.

The Lagos State government says it has made provisions to relocate the traders to another site.

Already, Lagos-based human rights lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, has in an open letter to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on behalf of the traders, said “Our clients believe that the said lease of Alade Market to the property developer by the Ikeja Local Government Council, with the aim of abolishing Alade Market and building in its stead a shopping mall or complex, is contrary to public policy”.

“Our constructive view is that even if the relocation and redevelopment of the market land has become a commercial imperative, the Lagos State Government [the owner of the market land] must sit down with the traders, dialogue with them, and enter into a binding agreement on relocation of the traders to a new suitable site, [which, definitely, cannot be the low, wet, canal, which is prone to flooding, that is being suggested] before re-possession of Alade market.”, he added.

According Ogunye, “the traders need government’s protection and not assault. Government’s development policies and plans should not be executed in such a way to unwittingly create the impression that women are being specifically targeted and are being economically strangulated.”

Giving credence to the negative effects of shopping malls on their businesses, the  general manager of Casia Foods, Ikeja,  Mr Akesinloye Segun,  said the emergence of shopping malls have impacted  so much on open markets like supermarkets in the state because of the convenience  they  provide.

According to him, the only advantage, the open market has now is that the shopping malls did not yet have the spread which the open market  is enjoying.

“Smaller clients still prefer to do their shopping around  their eighbourhood than spending  so much on transport  to buy little.
“ But with the spread imminent, it will be difficult to control because of the convenience   the shopping  malls offer.”, He said.

Apart from the economic effects on open markets,  Segun said there are also environmental impacts in terms of traffic,  sewage disposal and general  pollution.

As if to give credence to the  concerns expressed by Segun, the Lagos State ministry of the Environment only recently descended on Shoprites, Ikeja, for  environmental offences.

According to  a source in the ministry, it took the intervention from certain quarters before the  sanction was lifted.

He said: “ They know that they cannot mess with you, they must adhere to the rules or else they will be sanctioned. We are always monitoring them”, the source said.

But an urban development expert, Lookman Oshodi,  said  there was no cause of alarm as the emergence of the shopping malls have rather reduce the green space footprint within certain areas of metropolitan Lagos.

Oshodi, who is the Project Director  of Arctic Infrastructure, Lagos gave  the Ikeja Mall which sits on former Marwa GardenS at Alausa, Ikeja as good example.

He said within the vicinity of each shopping mall, traffic flow pattern are being altered with different management models adopted. Example is Ikeja Mall Shoprite Malls at Lekki.

“Primarily, the development of malls in different locations has become one of the major factors driving infrastructure delivery in the respective locations. Road, drainage and street light infrastructure were deliberately delivered around the neighbourhood of the malls. Ikeja, Festac, Surulere and Lekki are good examples in this regard.

“With few exceptions, especially in the new Adeniran Ogunsanya Mall in Surulere, many malls appear to have complied largely with different planning and development regulations, with the floor to car space ratio, overall safety consideration and airspace allowance being adequate” he added.

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Akinwunmi AmbodeUPDC
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