After decades of reliance on the Oil Extraction economy in the Niger Delta there is widespread recognition that the economy of Bayelsa State must diversify to become more sustainable and to ensure greater access to economic well-being for its citizens. Value-adding industrial production, manufacturing, improved agricultural production and agri- processing have been mooted as key areas for investment. However, these need to take place in a specific locality and be serviced with appropriate logistical infrastructure.
Niger Delta University, at Amassoma, is located at the west end of Wilberforce Island. The island is now connected to the rest of Bayelsa via the east bridge on Tombia Road to Yenagoa and the west bridge leading in future to the proposed Agge Port. The central landmass of Wilberforce Island is also over 10 metres higher on average than neighbouring Yenagoa and therefore more approriate for development in this flood prone area.
The centre of Wilberforce Island is tropical forest and is largely unoccupied. Settlements have historically been located on the river edge as boats were the most efficient form of travel in the past. There are 10 villages on the perimeter of the island, of which one is Amassoma. The new airport and east-west road are the only infrastructure in the centre of the island.
This Agri-City will be developed in four distinct nodes, NDU Town in the west, Wilberforce town and Airport Town in the centre and Industrial Town in the east. These four towns are linked by the existing east-west mobility route (which will become a dual carriageway over time) and a public transport oriented main street that passes through the three towns. Additional Eco-towns for very exclusive residential developments have been identified to the south of the airport.
The four main towns are planned to accommodate about 95,000 residential units, including about 21,000 students. Residential units are planned to be accommodated in high-rise buildings, three to four storey walk-up apartments, townhouses and free-standing bungalows to cater for a range of income groups. Each town will have a central market place, retail and office hubs and a full range of educational, health and community facilities.
Industrial Town will be mainly industrial in character but will also have a mix of other land uses, including residential, while NDU Town will have a greater emphasis on education and provide for the accommodation of staff and students, given its proximity to NDU. Wilberforce Town will offer mid- to up -market residential and related opportunities. Airport Town will have an emphasis on logistics and commercial land uses in addition to the residential and mix of other land uses. Each of the towns will be surrounded by intensive agricultural production from which the produce will be locally processed and then distributed. The city is planned to accommodate between 350,000 and 400,000 people to be completed over a 10 to 15 year period.