Tourist Magnet: Inside Akwa Ibom’s 21-storey Dakkada Towers
Tourist Magnet: inside Akwa Ibom’s 21-storey Dakkada Towers
One of the first contemporary landmarks I visited on my recent trip to Uyo was the Dakkada Towers, the 21-storey high-rise building also known as the ‘smart building’. Situated in the financial district, it’s said to be the tallest building in Nigeria’s south-south region. And typical of most buildings like that, you can see it from anywhere you are in the city.
The tower is a charming piece of architecture from a distance and elegant when seen from close range. And to take a tour of it – as I did this month – is an experience anyone visiting the state should have on their to-do list.
Work on the building started in January 2018 and was completed in December 2020, six months ahead of schedule. With the building now ready for rent and lease, the government is looking to change the perception people have of Akwa Ibom as a civil-service state; and with the profile of corporations expected to occupy the facility, the state is also laying the ground work to drive up its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
“On this ground floor, we have the reception and two restaurant spaces with outdoor sitting areas,” the onsite Electrical Engineer Nehemiah John told me just metres from the reception area. “There are also five purpose-built banking halls, two on the left and three on the right.”
On the far end of the lobby, display boards show the overall site plan and plan for the ground floor; the types of spaces open for corporate/ commercial use, the technological features and other tech-enabled installations of the entire facility. I stood there for a short while soaking it in.
So at a glance, I could see that the long list includes: smart smoke detectors, fully integrated alarm, automatic fire detectors and sprinklers, and a central fire alarm system. Of course, there is a centralsied air conditioning and ventilation system, airflow sensors, a central plant and chilled water system, air pressurization fans and fire staircases.
Suites with a view
“The building is controlled by different automation systems,” John continued as we passed through the turnstiles. Everyone going in will use a card pre-programmed for access. It’s basically what we call a BMA (Building Management System). And there is a dedicated access point for physically challenged persons.”
Future occupiers have multiple options to choose from: they could go for any of the 44 units of 150 sq km office suites (3rd, 5th-14th floors), 10 units of 300 sq kn twin suites (15th-19th floors) or three units of the 600 sq km penthouse suites (4th, 20th-21st floors). There are a number of other spaces suitable for different commercial uses, including IT Rooms, Snacks bars and insurance companies.
My visit was impromptu and I was lucky to be granted permission by the state’s Ministry of Special Duties. And because the facility is yet unoccupied, the stand-by generator wasn’t on; so we went up using the stairway (I didn’t mind in the least).
Eleven floors later, and already feeling the pressure on my legs, I stepped out through the empty office space and onto the wide balcony, with John leading the way (he does this often and didn’t seem to be catching his breath as I was). And spread out in all directions is Uyo metropolis. For anyone who has hiked up some of Nigeria’s hilltops, the view is similar to what you’ll see when you stand at the top of Olumo Rock, Ado Awaye or Idanre Hills.
“That’s the Champion Breweries there,” John pointed westward. I have seen the front of the building once or twice (while on a tricycle) but I really couldn’t make out its structure from where I was standing. “That’s the central Bank over there.” Yes, that I could see easily.
As far as the eyes could see
Here was our opportunity to take a five-minute break. Shortly, we were back on the stairs pushing up to the last floor, which is a terrace. We soon reached it and it felt refreshing to feel the rush of fresh air on my face. We passed by a window washer, intimidating in its size (they look far too small in films).
A spiral staircase took us to the topmost level. I looked up to catch a closer look of the Dakkada flag fluttering in the afternoon breeze. To think that last week it seemed all but seemed unreachable.
Standing up here was a dream come true, so to speak. I had admired the building from the day I arrived in Uyo and imagined being inside it; so to be standing right on top of it and having a bird-s eye view of the city excited me on end. Like someone who had just been given an honorary key to a city, I tip-toed my way around the terrace, smiling and looking in all directions. It felt like being on top of the world.
Shortly, John called my attention to the grassy patch way down on the ground floor, adjacent to the car park area (there’s space for 500 vehicles0. “That’s where the helipad will be,” he said.
On our way down, we stop over at the Engineering floor where most of the hardware that powers the entire building is installed. “This is restricted area and accessible only to staff,” John said, as he explained how water the chillers that cools the building functions and how it feeds all the floors. “As you can see, the lifts don’t get here.”
There are walls where the four lift doors should have been. As we exited the building, John showed me to the mechanical building. On our way to the car park, he pointed to the fire alarm systems and hydrants, ready to be activated if ever the need for them arose in the future. Nice.
“I have seen a number of buildings in Nigeria but in terms of the modern technological facilities embedded in a building of this nature, this is probably one of the best, if not the best I have seen in the country”.–OBJ
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