INSIDEMAINLAND – As anticipations heighten for the relocation of Lagos and, by extension, Nigeria’s most popular and biggest gadgets hub, Computer Village from central Ikeja to Katangowa, a sprawling community on the outskirts of the Lagos Mainland, INSIDEMAINLAND took a trip to the new settlement, and here are the five things we noticed.
The new Computer Village is situated at Abule-Egba, a commercially bustling neighbourhood with an unwanted history of pipeline and petrol tanker explosions.
The traffic situation in Abule-Egba is critical as routes linking to the area are limited to at least three. It doesn’t just stop there; these connecting arteries are narrow and cannot contain enough vehicles anticipated to increase as more businesses relocate.
Already the narrow roads are causes of the incessant traffic jam in Abule Egba. Approaching Abule-Egba from Ikeja during the heavy traffic will take a commuter at least two to three hours; a journey judging from the distance should have last less than 30 minutes.
Also critical to note is the ongoing construction of the Abule-Egba bus terminal adjacent to the Jubilee Bridge. The choky condition of the area is likely to be an additional problem that might increase the area’s traffic situation.
Owing to all these factors, it is expedient that the Lagos State Government start working on ways to improve the traffic situation in Abule Egba as the community awaits the influx of hordes of merchants and customers.
Slow Construction Activities
Since the administration of Babatunde Raji Fashola, the conversation for the construction of the new Computer Village has not progressed quite smoothly.
INSIDEMAINLAND correspondent visited the site and noticed that the majority of the area was bare with no serious construction activity. Although fenced round, the new site is still bare land.
At the extreme end of the new site is a little building proposed as the Police Station. At the other end of the site, some men were seen working on the foundation level of a very small portion of the bare land.
INSIDEMAINLAND noticed the area is a black spot as the community is acclaimed for harboring unscrupulous deviants who operate a syndicate peddling hard drugs. These hoodlums usually use the small uncompleted building (Police Station) to perpetuate their drug peddling activities.
Similarly, INSIDEMAINLAND observed some individuals openly smoking Indian hemp in the vicinity.
An individual who preferred anonymity told INSIDEMAINLAND that they usually climb over the fence to carry out their activities and then go on to defecate openly, leaving the place in a mess.
Site Dominated By Scrap Pickers
Scrap pickers were also seen loitering around the area, picking up metal scraps at all angles of the new Computer Village settlement.
We gathered that the scrap dealers are daily visitors to this axis as they have a thriving business dealing in iron and other damaged items in the neighbourhood.
INSIDEMAINLAND projects an increase in their activities as the full operation of Computer Village in this axis portends a likely increase in metal and iron scraps from electronic wastes.
Prospective Occupants Are Not Ready
Prospective occupants of the new computer village complained about the exorbitant of the proposed shops which the least price goes for about N6 million annually.
Although it was revealed the payment plan varies and the acquisition is either from the Lagos State Government or banks, there is an evident lack of enthusiasm among the current merchants at the present Ikeja Computer Village, billed be relocated to the new site.
While interacting with some of the shop owners in Computer Village, Ikeja, they lamented that the new location would result in limited patronage, stressing that the place is too far from the rest of Lagos.
Taiwo, a phone engineer, said, “Computer village here is central, moving us to that place (Katangowa) will be stressful for customers. People coming from Yaba, Lekki, Ikorodu will find it stressful to locate the new site due to the heavy traffic on the Abule road.
“The road channels leading to Katangowa is just one or two. If you’re coming to Ikeja here, you can easily come from different routes, but for Kantagwa, we have limited routes.
“We all know the level of congestion at the Abeokuta expressway. People coming and going to Oshodi find it very difficult on that road. The congestion alone at Ile Epo is alarming how much more now they are moving us there.
Taiwo said that only those who operate their business online would benefit from the new reform by the Lagos State Government.
“The only people that can benefit from this reform are those that have their business online because for customers to come and repair phone or laptop it will be discouraging for them to come all the way to Katangowa. Because some customers will like to stay with their phones for repair, they can never drop it for you.
“Someone coming from Yaba will rather look for an alternative like Tejuosho market to repair their mobile devices than coming to Katangowa”, he added.
In a contrary reaction to the claims by the shop owners, the National President Association of Mobile Communication Device Technician of Nigeria, Kehinde Ige Apara, said the new development by the Lagos State Government is laudable.
He said, “In as much as I respect everyone’s opinion about the relocation of computer village to Katangowa, I think the Lagos State Government has done a fantastic job with this new initiative. We can not run away from changes. We are indeed preparing to move, and most of our members have been subscribing to shops at the new site.
“Computer Village as it is now is choked and we need more expansion, we have to expand the business because the volume of people plying their trade in the industry is increasing. So it is, this place is no longer conducive for us. Computer Village cannot accommodate new investors that’s why we are solidly behind the new idea of moving us to Katangwa,” he said.
When asked if the new site was spacious enough to contain business in the next five years due to the growing pace of the I.T sector, he said, “What we have at Katangowa is 70 per cent larger than what we presently have here in Ikeja.
“The relocation is a government policy, an idea they bought into and if you look at this area closely you will discover that it is a residential area, it is not meant to be a market. And the government instead of chasing us away provided us with an alternative”.
Due to the high cost, Mr. Apara noted that arrangements are in place to ease the burden of getting a space at the new site for the existing tenants at the Ikeja Computer Village. “In terms of arrangement for allocation of shops, there are plans on the ground. If you’re buying directly from the company, you’re going to pay in two years, but with our arrangement with Sterling Bank and other relevant stakeholders, you can spread your payment for seven years”, he concluded.