The Lekki Free Trade Zone, located at Ibeju Lekki in Lagos, is a modern free zone with a hub of industrial activities.
Within this zone is a conglomeration of both foreign and indigenous industries among which are the Dangote Fertilizer Plant; the largest deep-sea port in West Africa, Dangote Petrochemical Plant (a sub-sea gas pipeline project under construction), a proposed airport, and several others. But the biggest fish amongst them is the Dangote Refinery, the largest oil refinery in Africa.
It is of interest to note that Lagos was never in the picture while consideration was being made for the siting of the refinery. It was originally proposed to have been sited in Rivers State. However, due to some obnoxious policies and disagreements with the state government, an attempt was made to move it to Bayelsa. At Bayelsa, they met the same brick wall. Unfortunately too, when they approached the Ondo and Ogun state governments respectively, they were never able to reach an agreement.
All this while the Dangote Group was having agreements and counter agreements with the above state governments, Ibeju/Lekki, the now host community of the Dangote conglomerate was being referred to as one of the outskirts of Lagos with minimal population and insignificant infrastructural presence.
However, the same cannot be said of it today as the area has witnessed a massive turnaround. The presence of the Dangote Conglomerate in Ibeju/Lekki has made the place to witness a surge in population causing it to be a prime location of choice for homeownership and real estate development.
As the saying goes, location is everything in the real estate business. Location in real estate practice isn’t about geographical position. It has to do with the presence of real estate market drivers.
These real estate market drivers dictate the pace of developments in any location, it creates demand and supply which in turn translate into profitability for investment. These drivers which can as well be defined as the presence of social amenities include: Accessible road network. This is very key and in fact, the most important. Stable electricity supply, presence of recreational facilities, schools, hospitals, malls, etc.
These social amenities in turn also attract other property–dependent business activities.
The story of Ibeju Lekki, which could have been likened to that of any other interior village that is far from the center of activities changed when the idea of Dangote Refineries and its subsidiary companies was muted.
Land speculators with foresight started mopping up landed properties for both commercial and residential estates in anticipation of a rise in price and value.
Land merchants started using ‘a few kilometers’ or ‘a few minutes’ drive’ from/to Dangote Refinery as their catchphrase to lure potential buyers.
Not only did the value of landed properties jump to over 1000%, but even the aesthetic appeal of the area also witnessed a 360 degrees turnaround. Any low-income earner who currently resides around the Ibeju-Lekki axis would be feeling out of place as it is now regarded as the abode of the high and mighty.
The Lagos State government, cashing in on the privilege offered them as the landlord of the Dangote conglomerate, carried out massive developmental projects within that corridor thereby positively impacting the livability of the area and attracting more residential and commercial clients.
Having a landed property within the Ibeju/Lekki corridors offers owners easy access to loan facilities as disposing of a property situated at Ibeju/Lekki, in the face of a foreclosure order, will never be a problem as there would always be ready buyers.
Chief Meckson Okoro, CEO of M.I. Okoro & Associates lent his voice to PROPERTY PRICE Magazine, on the impact of the Dangote Conglomerate within the neighborhood of Ibeju/Lekki and stated that what is currently being witnessed was going to be a child’s place to what will happen when the refinery, which is proposed to begin operation in August, takes effect.
According to him, the section of the refinery which is supposed to be ready for operation in August is projected to employ about 3,000 workers.
“The consequence of land use is that these people will begin to look for residential houses to stay. Residential houses will be so much in demand. And I don’t think we have that number of houses that will absorb that number of people as well. Apart from residential apartments, so many churches and mosques will also come in as well as schools.
“There will be general and very serious demand on both residential and commercial estates. Other commercial-like industries may produce things that people staying there will be needing. There will be demand for houses and lands for various purposes. The implication is that there will be an increase in the prices of houses that people will be demanding and the price of land will go up.”
He stated further: “For instance, if land used to be like N7million per plot, with the operation of Dangote Refinery, the land you are now buying for N7million will skyrocket to N50million or above, depending on pressure on demand.
“Of course, there will also be demand for drinking water, so water-producing companies will also cash in on it. And the demand for other things that make life worth living. The whole economic activity in that area will increase and of course, crime will also increase which will also lead to the government being pressured to provide security.”
According to reports, Dangote’s refinery project was first mooted in 2013 and to be completed by 2016 but construction did not start till 2017. It has a total capacity of 650,000 barrels of crude oil production per day, 450,000 barrels is expected to be dedicated to meeting domestic requirements. It covers a land area of 2,635 square meters.
It is the world’s largest single-train 650,000 barrels per day petroleum refinery plant with 900 KTPA polypropylene; over 1,200 units of various equipment were bought up to enhance the local capacity for the site work; Dangote Group bought 332 cranes to build up equipment installation capacity for the refinery, just to mention a few.
It can now be seen that while states like Rivers, Bayelsa, Ondo, and Ogun are now regretting and busy leaking their wounds in secret for forfeiting the siting of the refinery within their locations, the Lagos State government is busy counting its gains.