Real estate has continued to play a tremendous role in the 21st century. Land is inherently connected to the economic development and well-being of any nation, thereby necessitating some intervention by prudent governments. Land constitutes a consequential indicator for man’s wealth and as economic activities have become more urban over time, the crucial role played by land in development cannot be undermined. There is hardly any business conglomerate that does not need to be aided by some form of real estate: from the small scale businesses that need offices, to the large scale businesses that need factories. Therefore, it is not arduous to comprehend why there is a high demand for land. Consequently, against this backdrop, major economies, through some very thought out land policies, comprehensively address challenges they encounter in the real estate sector. This is not the exact situation here in Nigeria and any events similar to Lekki Gardens’ latest incidence would pose a heavy threat to the real estate industry.
Lekki Gardens and the Lagos state government
Lekki Gardens was established in 2012. It is one of the very few real estate brands working in Nigeria, despite the unfavourable conditions and has invested massively in Nigeria’s real estate industry. The brand, which has won the hearts of so many Nigerians due to its exquisite and prepossessing houses built across the country, was beginning to change the face of real estate in Nigeria when tragedy struck on Tuesday the 8th of March 2016.
The 5-storey building which came crashing down on Tuesday killed over 30 people. Upon investigation by the Lagos state government, the collapsed building was discovered to have been served a contravention notice for exceeding the approved floors and thereafter sealed by the Lagos State Building Control Agency. Consequently, negligence claimed the lives of innocent Nigerians.
The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Steve Ayorinde, stated upon preliminary reports and investigation that “In a brazen act of defiance and impunity, the owners of the building, Messrs Lekki Worldwide Estate Limited, the promoters of Lekki Gardens, criminally unsealed the property and continued building beyond the approved floors until the unfortunate incident of Tuesday which has led to loss of lives.”
The Lagos State Executive Council has decided that further integrity tests should be conducted on every other construction project which has or is currently being handled by Messrs Lekki Worldwide Estate Limited in the interest of the public.
The Lagos State government has, as a matter of necessity, directed the suspension of work at the site and mandated the Lagos State Police Command to cordon it off, as it is now a crime scene.
Meanwhile,the governor of Lagos state, Akinwunmi Ambode, has asked all directors of Lekki Worldwide Estate Limited to submit themselves for interrogation to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police within the next twenty four hours, peacefully, in their own interest or face immediate arrest.
It should be noted that the Managing director of Lekki Gardens, Richard Nyong, on thursday 11th of March 2016 was arrested by the Lagos State government and detained at Panti Police Station.
In response to the collapse of one of their buildings and its generating so much media attention due to the loss of lives, Directors of the Lekki Gardens company has condoled families whose loved ones were lost in the tragedy.
A monumental loss to Real Estate in Nigeria
The tragedy that has befallen, arguably the biggest real estate company in Nigeria, Lekki Gardens, is definitely a big blow to the real estate industry as a whole. Many Nigerians who have thought of patronising the company will now be skeptical about such move. It will definitely be a herculean task for Lekki Gardens to win the hearts of Nigerians, again if and when they come out of this mess. Other real estate companies might just become “scape goats,” and as such, whether real estate in Nigeria would rise again is left to be seen.
Here’s what some Nigerians had to say…
Lekki Gardens probably invested more money in advertisements and celebrity endorsements rather than the buildings..
— Debola Debbie Debs! (@debsextra) March 9, 2016
Listen. Lekki Gardens isn’t just a bait & switch scam, it is a death trap. Do not let anyone you know buy or rent at ANY of their properties
— Heaven’s Girl (@CheRox) March 8, 2016
— EDAFE MATTHEW ESEOGH (@ELEGBETE1) March 9, 2016