BY ANDREW IRO OKUNGBOWA
EVEN before stepping foot on the soil of Tarkwa Bay Island, a visitor to the place is sure to be captivated by the wondrous work of nature. The cruise, depending on the means — whether it is the speedboat or weather beaten passengers’ local canoe — is sure to elicit interest. The refreshing and welcoming pull of nature is an elixir of sort. There’s always a wish for the natural ambience that swirls round to last forever.
A first time visitor to Tarkwa Bay Island will marvel at the picturesque scenery and the cool breeze. Little wonder picnickers and fun seekers flood there during weekends and festive occasions.
But on the flip side, this island that evokes sweet memories also spurns tales of opposites, especially when a visitor to the island wanders into the inner recess of the enclave.
Away from the beach side and into the heart of the community, where the people reside, there’s a beholding picture of squalour and abandonment.
The first thing that strikes a visitor is the lack of order and discernible pattern of living. Beside the pockets of guesthouses that dot the place, ramshackle huts that pass for living quarters fill the scene. Apart from being a metaphoric place, the Island presents a picture of a ‘lost paradise’.
RELICS of the country’s colonial heritage and other historical treasures of note such as structures built by Europeans, who visited for solace and comfort, could be easily sighted.
The community appears to be far from government despite the presence of Atlas Cove.
It has no electricity, safe transporting system, police post, industry and health facility or safe and drinkable water; even when it is surrounded by water.
The leisure and entertainment industry is the only thriving enterprise here. From the seaside to the innermost part of the Island, everywhere is agog with fun. It is the soul of the people’s economy. The ‘red light district,’ dominate the scene with ladies of easy virtues at your beck.
Lagos State government has acknowledged the Island as one of the country’s most exotic tourism destinations, which however, has been lost to oddities.
In the words of Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, Commissioner for Tourism and Inter-governmental Relations, “Tarkwa Bay has been a tourist haven to scores of foreign and domestic tourists who every weekend and holidays visit the Island to spend some leisure time in the embrace of nature.”
Government has now realised the tourism potentials of the Island and is determined to transform it to a wealthy and luscious tourist haven by collaborating with the people to maintain its rich heritage.
Afikuyomi informed that the government has developed a blueprint for the place. This, according to him, has both short and long term values. The security of the place and the safety of life and property are issues he said the government is seriously looking into.
For the short term goal, he revealed that a series of soft branding activities for the place are being put together with a beach carnival to jumpstart the process of re-claiming the lost paradise. The carnival, which was held during the last Easter celebrations, attracted massive response from the public.
One month after the successful launch of the initiative, a lot of people are eagerly waiting for more actions from the government that would eventually transform the place to ‘an island of fun’.