Hoteliers in the Ikotun-Egbe axis area of Lagos State are at the moment bemoaning their losses due to low occupancy rate in most of the hotels. The hoteliers blame the situation on the Synagogue Church of All Nations building collapse, which in turn affected influx of worshippers and miracle seekers to the church. Before the accident, thousands of Nigerians and foreigners alike thronged the church, headed by Pastor T.B. Joshua, in search of miracle healings for various afflictions.
The miracle-seekers, all of whom could not see Pastor Joshua in one day, took accommodation in hotels in the area. Thus, the presence of the church and its activities is a major spur for the hospitality industry in the area, as many hotels opened shop mostly to provide accommodation for Synagogue worshippers coming from afar. But since the collapse of a six-storey structure in the church’s complex, the throngs have thinned out to a trickle, while the hotels have lost revenue running into billions of naira.
Speaking to journalists, the hoteliers, under the aegis of Pilgrims Hotels Association of Nigeria, said the total number of bed spaces of different categories for all the hotels in the Ikotun area was about 3,500. Before the accident, the hotels as gathered, record 100 per cent occupancy rate due to the church programmes which hold three times a week. Sadly, the occupancy rates now fluctuate between 10 per cent and zero all week long.
Speaking further on the issue, one of the hoteliers, Chief Jerry Omorodion said: “ We have been crying for a long time and government does not seem to understand our plight. It is a serious issue for us because our means of sustenance is being wiped out. Before the unfortunate incident at the Synagogue Church of All Nations, cumulatively, we have a total of about 3,500 hotel bed spaces. I am not adding some of these hotels in the process of coming on board but had to stop since the accident.
“The hotels have different categories of rooms, but for you people to understand the enormity of our loss, let me peg the room rates at just N5,000 which is the cheapest room rate in any decent hotel in Ikotun. Before the accident, we were having 100 per cent occupancy rate on at least three days in a week, but now, the occupancy rate in these three days is less than 10 per cent.
“Many of my colleagues have reduced their staff to the barest minimum; some of us are doing the jobs we used to employ and pay workers to do, since we can’t afford to employ now due to bad business climate.
“With a 10 per cent occupancy rate only about 350 rooms are sold by our members every night. Many have zero occupancy severally. What it means is that 3,150 empty rooms, at N5,000 minimum per night, we are losing about N15,750,000 per night.
He added: “In a month the loss is at N189,000,000, and in one year, you have a whopping N3,969,000,000 revenue loss, and this is money that is injected directly into the community. Think about the multiplier effect on the economy of the area. You can understand why we are shouting loudly. I am just talking about three days that we were sure of patronage.”
Asked what the hoteliers expect from government, Omorodion cuts in: “Look, this is a tourist destination. No area in Nigeria has a steady inflow of inbound tourists like Ikotun in Lagos. Go and do your research. We insist that government should understand that being a destination, all over the world, when there is accident, they should put in machineries to get to the root of the accident, take action where necessary without portraying the destination as unsafe and also overtly discouraging people from visiting there. If I may ask, how did other nations manage accident at destinations? This is something we should learn to do. The stampede in Saudi Arabia happened on September 24, 2015. More than 2,000 pilgrims lost their lives. The country, knowing the importance of religious tourism, has taken the necessary steps and quietly moved ahead. The Synagogue accident happened on September 12, 2014, since then we have been deprived of our livelihood due to the hostile signals from the government and forced to suffer.”