Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Freedom Park opens this October.

THE Lagos State government has converted the former Broad Street prisons into an amphitheatre and museum to keep the memories of heroes past, says the Commissioner for Physical Planning & Urban Development, Mr. Francisco Abosede.

He told The Nation that as the nation celebrates 50 years of independence from British colonial rule, the state will use the opportunity to celebrate some of her heroes who were jailed in the prison, and also put in place a museum where the relics of the colonial masters and the nation’s rich history will be displayed for visitors - giving meaning to its re-christened name "Freedom Park."

The prison, according to him, played host to Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Herbert Macauly, a former Alake of Egba land and an uncle to the first Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Adetokunbo Ademola, among others.

Abosede said the greenery introduced in the park is also to encourage healthy living that is harmonious with nature.

The three-storey building, he said, has provision for a ramp to make movement easy for the physically challenged who may like to visit the park.

On how people can access the park due to the expected large turn-out of people, he said that circular buses will be available at TBS and tickets also for would- be tourists as there is no provision for car lots in the park.

On maintenance, he hinted that the park will be managed by a consortium to preserve and maintain the facilities in place.

Taking The Nation round the 10,000 square metre expanse land, the principal partner of Total Consult, architects to the project, Mr. Theo Lawson, said the whole idea of the new development is to remember the past by making reference to where the buildings were but adding modernity to the features.

For instance, he said that they are preserving the 52 cell blocks which measures 4 ft by 8ft while the chief warders’ yard has been converted to administration block.

The condemned prisoners cell and gallows, according to him, has been transformed while the old kitchen is now a food court hosting fast food outlets. The park will also have the bust of all the notable prisoners in it and serve as the state museum as the shovels, cutlasses, hand-chains and other relics of the prison will be on display.

He also hinted that the government may have begun moves to repatriate some of the colonial relics that found its way to the United kingdom to boost the collections in the museum which will cover the entire history of the nation. He revealed that the complex will be delivered by October 1, this year