The Lagos Island Project Report highlights the essence of integrative planning and tourism for city dwellers

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With all of its cultural heritage, tourist appeal and business trappings, Lagos Island serves many purposes for the team residents who have called it home for decades.

In addition, Lagos Island has also been a case study for researchers on many subjects.

One such research is the Lagos Island project report entitled “Understanding Residents’ Perspectives on Recreation, Leisure and Tourism”.

The new report, a collaboration between the Sahara Center for the Advancement of Culture and Tourism and the Lagos Urban Development Initiative (LUDI), is the first attempt to understand and document Lagos residents’ perspectives on recreation, leisure and tourism, using Lagos Island as a base case study.

In addition, the report creates the necessary awareness of the issue and draws the attention of stakeholders, particularly governments and real estate developers, to the role that efficient urban planning can play in improving the quality of life for residents, healthier lifestyles and enabling infrastructure in neighborhoods plays like the island of Lagos.

Of course, one of these advantages is the high productivity of local residents who live closer to their workplaces.

In a media briefing at the Sahara Center’s office in Ebute Metta, Lagos, the report’s moderators noted that the island of Lagos was chosen as the case study for the first edition of the report because of its economic, socio-cultural importance as an Afro-Brazilian heritage and historical value.

She asks about the residents’ attitudes towards leisure and recreation facilities in their neighborhood, in particular regarding the accessibility of these facilities for the residents.

Noting the lack of access to some leisure facilities, such as Lagos’ theatres, the reports found that most residents rarely visit for lack of access, possibly lack of money or interest.

It determined why residents should be involved in city planning and projects designed to benefit them or their communities.

“If you engage people in planning their city and infrastructure, they will own the city and protect the infrastructure,” the report noted.

Adun Okupe, head of research at the Sahara Centre, shed more light on the report, noting that the report is timely, especially now that Lagos is making desperate efforts to transform itself into an urban center fueled by innovation and productivity, in hoping to further boost economic growth.

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As for the methodology of the report, she explained that they hired a tour guide who is an architect who understands the Afro-Brazilian heritage, amidst interns from the University of Lagos and various surveys conducted with visitors, residents and business people. “We looked at important hotspots and visited them on different days of the week. People were happy that their opinion was asked. They remembered with nostalgia many facilities that were there for them, like the common areas.”

According to Okupe, while a buoyant economy is good for a city like Lagos, the priority should be how the city is transformed to allow residents to work and play seamlessly, and to strike the balance necessary for a wholesome and happy Living among residents is required, hence the research.

Olamide Ejorh, Executive Director of the Lagos Urban Development Initiative (LUDI), also spoke about the report at a media conference held recently at the Sahara Center office in Ebute Metta Lagos, noting that no meaningful development aimed at the people will achieve its goals if the people it is intended to benefit from are not taken along.

In her opinion, government plans for infrastructure facilities and beautiful designs for the city must include people, since attempts to exclude them lead to people being careless about their city, events happening and infrastructure mishandling.

“We have elections next year and we also know that the economy is crashing. Unfortunately, people are not heard, which stifles development and urban planning.

“This report underscores the fact that people are involved in all of these decision-making processes. So this study talks about how we bring people together, understand their wants and needs, and how they want to use the space,” she said.

Some of the report’s findings include: the high importance attached to leisure by residents who also engaged in various activities in their communities and, as expected, safety concerns have hampered these leisure activities.

Also, residents are threatened by newer development models that seem to erode the diversity and vibrancy of their once-cherished cities, crowding them out with high rents and cost of living. This further depreciates existing leisure activities and attractions in the area, which have become inaccessible, the report found.

The report also explained how the findings can be applied in Lagos Island societal development efforts, which would require both private and public investment to make Lagos Island more attractive to residents and visitors alike, while the focus was not Tourism should focus on visitors, since the perspective of the residents is also important.

To date, Lagos has placed an emphasis on visitor-based tourism – the rationale for the development and preservation of culture, heritage and spaces – which excludes the perspectives of Lagos residents.

Sahara Center is a non-profit organization focused on advancing Nigeria’s creative industries, while LUDI is a non-governmental organization that uses collaboration, research and dialogue to bring organizations and people together to advocate for a more inclusive, livable and sustainable Lagos.

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