Tafawa Balewa Square, one of the relics of Nigerian Independence, has remained a national monument, and a tourist site of some sort, considering its status as the location where Nigeria celebrated its Independence in 1960.
Concessionaire of the structure, CEO, BHS International Limited, Otunba Olu Adenodi in an exclusive interview with Peplnews.com gives an insight on what has been done to preserve the edifice and plans to transform it into a world class City Centre
56 years down the line, how has the Tafawa Balewa Square popularly called TBS faired in terms of maintenance and utilization of the facility for hosting of national events?
When we took over the management and maintenance of the TBS. through an open bid according to the policy of the Federal Government., it was like a graveyard where all the hoodlums in Lagos were residing. The facility was fast becoming a liability rather than an asset.
|Olu Adenodi, CEO BHS International Limited|
The facility is now generating revenue through hosting of events, office rental etc. and we are putting in place more structures to complement what we have at the moment.
We have built a modern 1000 sitting capacity banquet hall which is fully functional.and another 1000 sitting capacity multi-purpose hall which is currently on over 50% completion stage.
Before we won the bid, we were able to convince the Federal Government to review the federal status of the TBS. We told them that we could turn the square to a City Center fashioned after such City Centers in South Africa and Dubai mall, and they believed us. With our construction partners taken from Germany, America and South Africa, we were able to convince the government and we won the bid.
What you are seeing here is the model of the prototype of what we want to do here. It is a commercialization process. why we were not been able to achieve that so far is because of the policy implementation then.When ACN, now APC was in charge of Lagos and PDP was there at the federal level, you know this rivalry between them. Lagos state contested that the TBS belongs to them so they took us to court but the matter is been resolved now especially now that we have what they call liquisa of Abuja and Lagos.
We have experienced some progress since APC took over, infact they have been here to look at our plans to see what we have to do,They supervise our drawing, they supervise our plan, they look at it, right now as we are talking they are looking at it, the model We have here, the idea is to turn that place to a City Center, where you have a shopping mall, luxury apartment and a hotel.
In transforming TBS into a City Centre of that stature, so many issues have to be looked at, such as road network into the square, adequate parking space, etc, what are your plans in that regard?
First of all, what we have done, before we came out with this prototype is to address the traffic situation and this is what we are going to see here because we discovered that no matter how beautiful your house is, if it is not accessible, it is a waste. despite how much you use in building it, so we first of all tackle the traffic situation.
Another major problem we have in Lagos is parking. We are building in this place, a ten thousand parking system, A historical parking system that can accommodate the hotel element, shopping apartment luxury apartment, and the office element. Our main bowl is being reserved for that and we are going one down level to build under it a car parking system and then rise up again around this side to join this level for historical car parking system so expect that by the time this place is finished.
Will this remodelling not tamper with the historic status of the TBS?
We retained according to our agreement with the federal government, some of the heritage that this place is known for, you know how this place started from horse racing and you can see that this design is fashioned after that horse..Those who are familiar with horse will be able to enjoy it anytime
Does the TBS still host national events?
We have many activities all year round. The major ones include October 1st Celebration, Lagos State government programmes, Lagos Carnival, Eyo Festival, Religious Carnival such as the Experience and the Trade Fair that we hold every year.
If you have been coming to our trade fair here over the years, the visitors usually have the problem of getting hotel accommodation. They first of all come in here, drop their products,and they will look for where they are going to stay, so this project is going to address that challenge by providing a one stop center for them. You drop, check into the hotel, come to the exhibition ground the following day and enjoy yourself, display your products to the whole world and at the end of the day, you return to your hotel.
Our intention is to make this place a One Stop City Center.
If you are familiar with the Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton City, South Africa, that is exactly what we are planning to do here.
How soon do you hope to start the project and what is the proposed duration of the construction?
By the time we finish putting things to order like i told you now that the obstacles are being removed. Lagos state government has accepted our price. They are looking at it soon as we get our approval, the completion period we are looking at, cant be more than 3-4 years. So you are going to see a brand new TBS City Center.
When you look at the strategic nature of the square, it is close to the mainland and the Island.