In Côte d’Ivoire, many residents of the village of Niega, west of Sassandra, have high hopes for a mysterious construction site that started by the sea in 2015. They all believe that a luxury hotel will be built, which will offer job opportunities. Some observers fear an increase in land disputes and misuse of coastal privatization, a phenomenon already observed in Assinie.
From the top of this hill in the village of Niéga, located 12 kilometers west of Sassandra, the view is unique and breathtaking. On one side, dense and tropical vegetation flows into the sea, on the other, a peaceful lagoon is home to large rocks sculpted by time.
Since it was acquired in 2015 by a French industrialist, this 18-hectare site has raised hopes of economic opportunities for the inhabitants of this region, which remains poor despite its tourism potential. According to the village chief, Mr. Moni, is a hotel under construction. “The hotel project was not an easy affair, but after six years the guy was able to put his hotel in place. It ended in a convention and it is a secret.”
The village chief also reveals that the agreement allows for the construction of a school and the installation of a hydraulic pump. To date, only a few concrete foundations have emerged from the ground. But soon, some residents swear, there will be a luxury hotel with a heliport and swimming pool. Rodrigue Boko, a young farmer, hopes that the residents can enjoy this project: “Let him know that where he built the hotel, there are young people looking for work…”
To deprive the heirs of their land AXADLE was able to speak with Maxime Mabilon-Wolpe, the buyer of the land. While he waits to invest his new country, the ex-soldier has rented all the rooms in a hotel in Sassandra for two months, a town he compares to Saint-Tropez. He explains that this land, the object of all fantasies, is not meant to be a hotel. “When you see a large construction site, lost in nature, you naturally say to yourself that it is a new hotel to be built. No, it’s just my main residence, where I will spend my retirement with my wife and children, fishing and eating my vegetables.
For professionals in the field of tourism and land law, the lack of involvement of the authorities together with inappropriate land legislation could create tension in the future. “Landowners, as soon as they see such an offer, they immediately stick to the project,” says Serge Kragbé, regional manager the association of the hotel industry in Côte d’Ivoire. For them it is enough to sell, make money, support themselves. They forget that they are losing the inheritance from the family, from future generations. Today you sell a property, but tomorrow, your children, your grandchildren, what will they live on tomorrow? According to the new owner, the Niéga plot was sold for between 200,000 and 300,000 euros. A figure that we could not verify.