$480m Tinapa Rots Away After Donald Duke’s Tenure

LAGOS SEPTEMBER 29TH (NEWSRANGERS)-The saying that ‘when the owner or originator of an idea or a business is no more, the idea goes with him’ seems to be very true of the Tinapa Business and Leisure Resort Ltd. When he held sway as governor of Cross River State, especially during his second term when he conceived and built Tinapa Business Resort and Leisure Ltd, Mr. Donald Duke passionately nurtured it to global prominence.
Duke constantly used local and international media outlets to publicise it. At its peak, its fame grew globally to the extent that TINAPA was not only a beehive of activities but a must-visit place. It hosted conferences almost round the clock. Tourists and fun seekers flooded the place.
It is a massive and structurally imposing business concept by the former governor of Cross River State to complement his idea of tourism, which was the focal point in the second term of his administration.
Tinapa sits on a land mass the size of about 20 or more Olympic size football fields. Over $480 million was reported to have been used to build the sprawling complex, which has array of emporiums, each as big as half of a football field. These were meant to be taken up by business organisations to retail their goods. Within the complex, there are conference halls of international standard, a 3-storey hotel of nearly 100 rooms, children arcade, office complexes, cinema halls which Hollywood stars had patronised when the place boomed, artificial river, monorail etc.
It would appear that the successive governors – Senator Liyel Imoke and Professor Ben Ayade did not sustain the tempo, lending credence to the belief that maintenance and continuity are not on the minds of successive governments in Nigeria. Tinapa is not only moribund today, it is a sorry sight.
The purposeful and gigantic structures, which were meant to boost tourism and economy of the state and sustain itself, are simply lying in ruins. Much of the structures have since been overwhelmed by wild grasses. The infrastructures are decaying. As at today, all of the occupants of the shops and emporiums have since left, even TMart (owned by Donald Duke) which was the only one that remained. Revenue has ceased.
Recent reports indicate that thieves frequently vandalise many of the equipment, cables, lightings, as there is no security. Criminals are reported to freely hide away in the bushes that surround the structures. It is understood that they have also tampered with the monorail. Perhaps, it is only the Lakeside Hotel and the adjoining swimming arcade that have semblance of life, especially during festival holidays or some weekends when one or two conferences are lucky to be hosted there.
The originator of the TINAPA concept, Donald Duke, has often bared his mind over the abandonment of the project which staggering state resources were sunk into. Till today, the state government is still paying back loans to the federal government and banks. At a book launch in Calabar penultimate week, Duke regretted that the infrastructure has been allowed to waste, saying the non-usage of Tinapa was the greatest disservice his successors have done to the state.
“Tinapa has not been put to use and we shot ourselves on the foot when we did not put it to use. Government is continuous and the successor is always smarter than the predecessor,” he stated. He said so much was expended on Tinapa and was supposed to be the pride of the state, but said the place has been left to rot because his successors did not understand the concept.
He was unhappy that the monorail project said to be valued at over $130m was abandoned soon after he left office.
However, when Ayade came, he seemed to have activated it even though it has again been abandoned due to inactivity in the resort. Imoke and Ayade’s governments have often insisted that lack of regulatory framework to determine its operations impeded its functionality. Their spokespersons said when the project was completed, the area was absent.
In an interview, the general manager, Mr. Francis Ekom, denied that Tinapa is moribund and maintained that some activities are still on course.
He however consented that a good number of the businesses which once flourished in Tinapa had closed shops but that they have new proposals from some investors.
“We are still functioning. Some business activities are still going on. What has been impacting against the resort is the government regulations since inception. However, there is hope now for businesses such as ours going by what the Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo marshalled out last week.”
To further confirm that life is about to be breathed into the resort once more, Ekom disclosed that a foreign manufacturing concern will soon take up part of the complex to do ‘light manufacturing’.
“They may not yet be allowed to do heavy manufacturing so that it does not affect the ambience of the resort. With them around, many more businesses will return,” he said.
On the wild and over grown grasses which have overtaken the complex, Ekom confessed that it takes several millions of naira to dress the grasses and maintain the ambience.
“Even though the state government occasionally helps in this regard but we cannot dress the grasses because it consumes millions of naira. TINAPA was supposed to generate its funds but where do we get such money today when we have not yet been able to offset much of the loans and other indebtedness.
“It was not the state government that was supposed to pay back the loans raised to build Tinapa but ourselves.”
Many believe that some federal government agencies such as the Nigerian Customs Service have a hand in the plight of the resort. It is believed that the many stringent measures and taxes at seaports on importers of goods meant to go to Tinapa discouraged investors and business owners. As if that was not enough, the citing of a similar concept few metres away – the Summit Hills Estate which houses array of leisure and business outfits, including international golf course and the Calabar International Conference Centre (CICC), by former Governor Liyel Imoke compounded the challenges of Tinapa. It pulls traffic of conferences away from Tinapa.
A concerned and critical stakeholder in the state, Chief Benjamin Ani, asked why Imoke couldn’t channel the massive funds used in building another events centre into Tinapa.
“He also wanted to be seen as having built such edifice which the current government has named after him, as Tinapa was named after Duke. Why didn’t Imoke or Ayade continue to ensure that Tinapa is sustained through entrenched interest?”


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Posted by on Sep 29 2019. Filed under Features, National. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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