After what began as a rumour a few weeks ago, residents of Uyo are now rejoicing over the recent opening of the cineplex at the Ibom Tropicana. The cineplex which is part of a N33billion contract to Silverbird Showtime Limited has 6 standard 250 seater viewing halls.
The cineplex was commissioned by the state governor, Godswill Akpabio on Monday 25th April, just a day before the gubernatorial elections. When the news went around before the launch date, some viewed it as an attempt by the present government to prove to the people of the state that the Ibom Tropicana was actually making head-way while others thought it to be a deliberate attempt by the government to win the hearts of its citizens residing in Uyo, which happens to be an ACN stronghold during the gubernatorial elections.
Governor Godswill Akpabio signed the contract for the state government, on 15th September, 2008 while Ben Murray-Bruce, Managing Director of Silverbird penned for the company. On completion, the Tropicana would have a 16-storey building with a 250-bedroom five-star hotel, a galleria with cinema, a 10,000 sitting dome as well as and theme and water parks.
According to Akpabio, 15 companies submitted bids for the job and three survived the pre-selection screening before the contract was awarded to the Silverbird Group. The State Chief Executive reiterated the resolve of his administration to make Uyo, and the rest of the state a major tourist destination.
The governor described the Tropicana Entertainment Centre as a major milestone in the efforts of the government to ginger the economy through increased revenue generation and creation of employment, hinting that the centre would employ 5,000 people.
To ease emerging traffic owing to influx of prospective tourists to the state, the state government has completed construction of two major flyovers at Etaha Itam market junction. Government released N11 billion to Julius Berger PLC to facilitate the job.
The cinplex viewing halls opened to customers on Saturday, 30th April. Most people who visited were very delighted with the facilities and standard of the cineplex. Those who had visited cinema halls in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt expressed pleasant surprise that such a facility could exist in Akwa Ibom state.
The cineplex is currently running movies only during the hours of 3 - 6pm till May 5th. After this date, it will begin running movies throughout the day.