The Tinapa business resort was commissioned by the Federal government back in April 2007. It was billed Africa’s largest resort at the time and promised so much. It’s 4 years now and little is heard of the place except for the various issues and counter issues maligning it’s success.
Tinapa was built at a cost of about $450m (N70b) at today’s cost. It is set on a site of about 265 hectares and includes, Shopping Complex, hotels, Studio complex(for film making), Arcades, Parks etc. People who have been there attest to it’s beauty and potential to transform the entire region and Nigeria as a whole. So far all but the Retail outlets have witnessed significant patronage. Even at that the overall patronage is very low. Here are some pictures of the malls
Why is it witnessing low patronage considering it’s immense potentials? There a number problems affecting the success of the complex which honestly shouldn’t be. For example, the distance from mainland Calabar to Tinapa is like 25km. That is like 21/2 times the length of 3rd Mainland Bridge. It cost N3000 a drop to get there and another N3000 back. Imagine you are going for some window shopping, it’ll cost you N6,000 already. It even gets worse for visitors outside Calabar. Flights in an out of Calabar are not as frequent and flexible as it should be. The distance from the airport to Tinapa is another cause for concern.
Another major impediment is the lack of major retail outlets and anchor tenants. Anchor Tenants are shops like Walmart, Shoprite, Primark who occupy large floor spaces and command the ability to draw a lot of shoppers. Without them, it’s hard to see the traffic required for other tenants to market their products. Lack of constant power supply is also a problem in Tinapa. It’s strange this is a problem as managers of Tinapa insists there is “uninterrupted power supply”.
I also learnt the reason why majority of the retail brands have refused to occupy the shops is because the Federal Government is yet to approve of operational guidelines governing the operations of the Free Trade Zone. Meaning, outlets may yet not be able to enjoy the free tax and duties on imported goods.
It’s nice to know the President on his recent campaign rally in Calabar promised to wade into the problems facing the complex if reelected. This might just be the break Tinapa needs to survive and avoid being tainted as another white elephant project.