Driven by the desire to beautify the capital of Edo state and give potential investors a warm welcome, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, in 2010, decided to give the King’s Square a major face-lift by installing streetlights, inter-locked water ways, musical water fountain and flowers.
So beautiful and conspicuously placed was the edifice — especially the water fountain which radiates beautiful rainbow colors at night — that it drew commendations from all, particularly those visiting Benin City for the first time.
However, seven years on, the Square has suffered neglect and is now gasping for life. Replacing its once beautiful and serene condition is dirt, bush and disrepair.
As a result, residents, who usually go there to relax or hang out on festive periods, have deserted the place, making it a lonely island.
While Bloomshire visited the square during the last Eid-el-Fitri celebration, there were only a few people – who perhaps out of high tolerance or lack of anywhere else to go – at the Square, chatting and reminiscing about what the place used to be.
“This place is now dry and unkempt”, lamented Esosa, one of the few people Bloomshire met at the Square. “My friends and I used to come here on weekends to ease ourselves of the stress of the week, but we can no longer do that anymore”, she concluded.
For Adesua, an indigene who was visiting the state after a long absence, she was greatly disappointed by what she saw as there was no correlation between it and what her cousin described to her two years ago. “I hope by the next time I am visiting, it will look like the image my cousin created”, she said with an air of resignation.
The visitors are not the only ones affected by the dysfunctional state of the King’s square. For traders and other service-providers like photographers, the mismanagement of the square carries severe economic consequences.
“This photographer business is all about quantity”, said Sunday, a photographer who plies his trade in the square. “And since this place has been in this state, people have stopped coming and my business is badly affected. I no longer make money”, concluded Sunday.
Kenny, a staff in the square, confirmed the drastic drop in patronage and foot-traffic and he blames it on the management of the square. “It has been over four months since the fountain last functioned”, according to him.
The King’s Square, at night, used to remind the people of how much beauty is contained in the state they call home. But now, in its dark, gloomy state of neglect, it symbolizes yet another failing project.
Report by Popoola Faith