Victoria Island (Lagos)

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Victoria Island (VI) is an affluent town that encompasses a former island of the same name that sits between Lagos Island and the Lekki Peninsula in the Lagos Lagoon. It is the main business and financial centre of Lagos, Nigeria. Victoria Island is one of the most exclusive and expensive areas to live in Nigeria. The town and island lie within the boundaries of the Eti-Osa LGA.

Victoria Island

History[edit]

Victoria Island was originally surrounded entirely by water. It was bordered by the Atlantic ocean on the south, the mouth of the Lagos Lagoon on the West, the Five Cowrie Creek to the north North, and swamps on the East. The colonial government began the process of filling in the eastern swamps to reduce mosquito breeding areas. This created a land bridge between Victoria Island and Lekki Peninsula ending its existence as a true island. After independence, successive state governments expanded this development, culminating in the construction of a highway connecting Victoria Island to Epe. This activity, along with the rapid commercialization of Victoria Island, served to stimulate residential development along the Lekki-Epe corridor, starting with Lekki Phase 1.

The area of the land bridge, composed of the former swampland, became a large slum called Maroko Town which housed many of the new migrants to Lagos State. Residents of the Island complained about this problem, leading the military Governor of the State, Raji Rasaki, to forcibly remove the residents on July 14, 1990, resulting in numerous injuries. Governor Rasaki and his armed security forces caused the eviction of as many as 300,000 residents, some of whom had legal title to their property.[1]

This new area established after the evictions was called Victoria Island Annex. It was cleared and sold to residential buyers.

Subsequent reclamation expanded the area to the extent that Victoria Island Annex is now connected to the Lekki Peninsula. This new, enlarged area is referred to as “Oniru Estate” after the ruling family of the area.

Modern history[edit]

Victoria Island

Originally designated an upscale residential area, failing infrastructure and overcrowding in the old business district on Lagos Island and lax zoning enforcement in Victoria Island led to a mass migration of businesses over the last twenty-five years. Today, Victoria Island is one of Nigeria's busiest centres of banking and commerce, with most major Nigerian and international corporations headquartered on the Island.

Victoria Island is one of the most exclusive and expensive areas to live in Nigeria. The cost of renting an apartment with luxurious amenities ranges from $48,000 to $85,000 per annum. Due to the array of world-class restaurants, shopping malls, hotels, bars, night clubs, movie theatres, schools and businesses located in VI, investing in property is a lucrative business.

The Island has continued to rapidly develop and along with Ikoyi, is a favourite spot for Nigerians and foreigners to live and play.

However the influx of banks and other commercial ventures has changed the formerly serene atmosphere of the Island. Longtime residents complain about the increase in traffic and influx of street traders who cater to local bank employees and businessmen.[citation needed]

A new project being developed by the Chagoury Group includes the Eko Atlantic City, located next to Victoria Island.[2][3] The project is being built on reclaimed land that has been lost to coastal erosion.[4][5]

Economy[edit]

Business District, Victoria Island

Guaranty Trust Bank has its headquarters on the island, Halliburton and IBM operate offices on Victoria Island.[6][7][8] A Hewlett Packard office for West Africa is also located in Victoria Island.[9]

Human Rights Questions Regarding the Demolition of Maroko Town[edit]

The displaced former residents of Maroko Town have pursued redress within the Nigerian justice system, without success. In 2008, a human rights organization, Social and Economic Rights Action Centre (SERAC), filed a complaint with the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights on behalf of the Moroko people.[10]

Activists and displaced Maroko residents continue to hold Maroko Remembrance Day each year on July 14.[11]

Diplomatic missions[edit]

The Embassy of Russia in Nigeria is located on Victoria Island.[12] United States Consulate is located on Victoria Island. Victoria Island is also the location of the embassies for Germany, Bulgaria and Great Britain, as well as a number of consulates, including those of India, Brazil, Lebanon, and Spain.

References[edit]

Coordinates: 6°25′52″N 3°24′57″E / 6.43111°N 3.41583°E / 6.43111; 3.41583