Enugu, community in fresh showdown over centenary city project
The long-simmering distrust between Enugu State Government and Amechi – Uwani community in Enugu South local government council over marginalisation claims appear set to threaten multi-billion naira Centenary City project, following fresh demand by the landowners for the return of their land and restraining of the private developer.
The massive and ambitious project, the Enugu Centenary City (Enugu Lifestyle & Golf City, ELGC), a partnership project between the State government and a South African Company- Private Estates International Limited began in 2009, after the Sullivan Chime administration issued the Certificate of Occupancy (CofO) to the firm to develop a modern city.
Designed around the style and comforts offered by the most advanced cities whilst retaining broad African influences, Enugu Lifestyle and Golf City according to the promoters, will be the best place in Nigeria to live, work, learn, play and shop. It is set on 1,097 hectares of lush green savannah with the Udi Hills as a picturesque backdrop.
The residential plots present breathtaking views of the golf course, lakes and reserved green areas. Irrespective of the plot size (ranging from 300m² – 3,000m²), the city promises to deliver a lifestyle of luxury, serenity and security. The price for each plot depends on the community and plot size and goes for N16, 000 per square meter or 14,000 per square meter depending on the plot type.
ELGC development coincides with the 100 years anniversary of the creation and existence of Enugu city. Currently, the proposed amenities include shopping malls, institutions, and offices, playgrounds that would make it distinct.
Last week, placard- carrying members of the Amechi Uwani community numbering over 2, 000 staged a peaceful protest in the area, asking the developers to quit and state government to return their land over alleged insensitivity on the part of the developer.
Some of the placards read: “Agbana centenary city is not for sale”, “Government don’t acquire land to sale, they acquire for public interest”, you cannot take our land and turn round to sale it N15million per plot”, where will our children live if you sale this land?” Give us back our land as it is no more for ESUT”, among others.
Led by their traditional Prime Minister, Chief Micheal Oguejiofor Okenwa, they said the land was forcefully taken away from them without negotiation or compensation on the guise of overriding public interest.
“We went to court against Enugu State government and the private developers and our suit No/E/416/2012 has been pending at the Enugu State High Court. More than a year ago, the defendants told the court that they wanted out of court settlement and requested time. We agreed but the defendants failed to initiate any negotiation since then.
Efforts to get the state government’s reaction proved abortive. But the company said they acquired the land through the Enugu state government in 2009, after they convinced government of their determination to have modern city project.
The company’s Project Manager, Chamberlin Mbachu called on the state government to resolved the issues as it was already creating a negative impact on the project.