General Manager, World Trade Center (WTC) Abuja, Mr Samrat Banerjee says Nigerians are positive about the prospect of having a development such as the WTC Abuja located in the heart of their capital as they put in stakes.
What has been Nigerians’ reaction to this gigantic investment — being the first of its kind here? Do they appreciate it?
You are correct in saying that the World Trade Center Abuja is the first of its kind in Nigeria, being a mixed use development comprising of AAA offices, super luxury residences, 5-star hospitality and a world-class shopping mall.
The reaction so far has been extremely positive; we feel that Nigerians are excited about the prospect of having a development such as the WTC Abuja located in the heart of their capital.
The WTC Abuja is setting the tone for 21st century developments of the future; we have seen that it is not only those who will ultimately occupy the development that appreciate it, but it is also the real estate developers and other key stakeholders who have learnt a lot from what we are doing here. We have had many individuals and industry stakeholders attest to the fact that the World Trade Center Abuja truly represents a development of the future.
Are you satisfied with the stakes put into the project by Nigerians so far?
We are particularly satisfied with the response concerning the World Trade Center Abuja project, from both Nigerians living locally and from those in the Diaspora. Many of them share our dream of building world-class infrastructure in Nigeria and they have shown their confidence in us through the investments they have made in the project. Sales have been positive thus far and as the project approaches its completion, we are confident that we will have more people come on board.
What has been similar World Trade Centres’ response to this project?
A single body known as the World Trade Centers Association (WTCA) governs all the World Trade Centers worldwide. The WTCA has been supportive throughout the entire process of setting up this purpose-built World Trade Center in Nigeria, right from the ideation stage to sharing best practice in design and also during the construction stage. We have learnt a lot from them and we believe they have also learnt from our expertise. I have no doubt that the WTCA and many of the other WTCs around the world are excited about the WTC Abuja as it will open up the gateway for trade between Africa and the rest of the world. The World Trade Center Association (WTCA) is made up of 330 World Trade Centers around the globe and each of these has a member network of diverse businesses that are looking to do business abroad.
What has been plan for transport – getting this place connected to the airport?
Location and accessibility is extremely significant in any real estate development and the World Trade Center Abuja is privileged to be located in the CBD of Abuja. It is close to the city’s prime districts such as Maitama, Asokoro, Wuse, Garki and the airport amongst others. However, transport was considered and well thought of in the planning of the World Trade Center Abuja as the site runs adjacent to Constitution Avenue, one of the main arteries of Abuja.
There is also a dual-carriage highway that surrounds the entire site, enabling seamless flow of movement in and around the site. Furthermore, the upcoming light rail is currently under construction and one of the main railway terminals will be located right opposite the World Trade Center Abuja site. With this in place, our residents and community will have easy access to the whole country.
How much of Nigeria’s local content has been in the entire project?
Aside from some of the materials used in construction, the major Nigerian content used in the project is our team. Churchgate Group, the developer of World Trade Center Abuja has employed directly and indirectly thousands of Nigerians who have been involved at different stages of the project. They have been involved right from concept design, to planning, construction and even sales and marketing. Without the efforts of the entire team, predominantly made up of Nigerians, the World Trade Center Abuja wouldn’t be where it is today.
We talk of world trade — with European Union’s ban on import of a couple of Nigeria’s produce, what does this portend to your engagement here?
As you are aware, World Trade Center is a body that promotes trade and investment both locally and abroad. One of the missions of WTC Abuja is to improve trade relations between Nigeria and the rest of the world. Therefore, such bans mentioned may exist today, however our intention is to help in re-building bridges so that trade flows freely between our country and the rest of the world.
Could you explain post construction management process?
The Churchgate Group has operated in Nigeria for almost 50 years, and as its core business is real estate development we’re well versed in how to handle projects post construction phase. We have the track record for maintaining all of our skyline buildings to an international standard. Our current clientele base includes an array of multinational corporations that expect a high level of quality and standard, which we’ve been able to successfully provide since the inception of our properties. For instance, we have a robust quality control team that will carry out testing and commissioning of our projects. Thereafter, a professional facility management team will be brought on board to maintain our properties day-to-day. Our properties are sold by our sales and marketing division and we have a fully dedicated CRM team to handle needs of our clients. All of this put together enables us to operate and run our properties to the level that is expected of us.
Why is Nigeria Churchgate’s destination choice?
Churchgate has been in Nigeria for almost five decades. During this time, we’ve been involved in trading, manufacturing, financial services and real estate. We see Nigeria as our home; it’s where we’ve been and where we intend staying for decades to come. Nigeria has over 170million people. It’s an emerging market whereby the middle class is becoming more influential. With this, there is an array of services required by the people and we feel that we’re in the position to offer such services at the level required.
After delivery of the World Trade Center, will Churchgate still do this kind of project in Nigeria?
Most definitely, the World Trade Center Abuja is our flagship project at the moment, however, we intend on building similar projects throughout the country. We’ll always innovate and embark on projects that will continue to redefine the skyline of Nigeria.
At what cost is Churchgate doing all this?
I’m not in a position to divulge the exact costing. Furthermore, work is still ongoing on the project. However, the investment is substantial and when all phases of the project are completed, our investment will surely be in the billions of dollars.
Source: Daily Trust