Flame of the Cinema
A security guard checks every visitor at the door to the lobby. Inside, a homely smell of popcorn assaults the nostrils. The flaws are polished and gliding. The first floor has a game arcade and a couple of shops and an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) system. The stairs lead up to the Chinese Restaurants, a Sport Centre, and more exclusive shops. Here, you can also find the ticket booth. Another flight of stairs led up to five cinemas and a booth for popcorn and drinks. Welcome to Kada Plaza, Benin City’s mega entertainment centre.
“This place is nice,” Justina Oyem, a University of Benin student told THISDAY. “The ambience is cool and what they offer is amazing, I played games, watched movies and went to the Chinese restaurant. It’s a total package.”
Rachael Wanogho’s first visit to the famed Kada Plaza was on her birthday. “I have not been to anyone in Lagos, but I have been to one in Port-Harcourt, and I tell you, this place is not lacking in standard at all. I can say I had a great birthday,” she said.
A young journalist in the city, Innocent Omoaka was also wowed at the Plaza’s offering, saying his expectations were surpassed on his first day. “It was eventful for me. I was not expecting that in Nigeria we could have such an Event Centre. It was just like the experience we see on TV that we think cannot be replicated in our own society. The standard I saw there does not need any improvement,” he said.
Kada Plaza is a new development in the budding city of Benin. The 800 audience capacity centre was inaugurated last year November by the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion. The Plaza is located along the high-brow Sapele Road and is built to meet international standards and shift the attention of millions of fun seekers and entertainment media from the already populated Lagos, Port-Harcourt, and Abuja. The centre is equipped with five cinema halls including the one for VIPs, a banking hall, sports bar, snookers and tennis complex, a Chinese restaurant, business shops for gift items, a bureau de change, and is estimated to be providing about 500 jobs.
An excited visitor, Emeso Pius, could not contain her joy after seeing a movie. “It was fun. I saw Spiderman. I played the basketball thingy, and even the dancing one. For now I think they are okay because they don’t have a competition for now. So until they get a competitor, then we can start talking about how to make things better. For now, it all seems perfect.”
“It was actually very lovely, seeing something different in Benin City,” Benita George, a University of Benin student, told THISDAY. “You only see things like this in Lagos; I don’t even think there is any standard cinema in Edo. So when I went there I was very impressed. They show the latest movies. For example I saw October 1st during its first week of release at the cinema, and when I went on the internet, I noticed that a cinema in Lagos is not even showing the movie yet.”
She also noted that the customer service was top notch. “The customer service is very good. Because when you go there, they attend to you nicely and you feel you are in Lagos – because I stay in Lagos and I always expect people to meet up the Lagos standard. Everything is just alright.”
After hearing tales of Kada Plaza from her friends, Towuru Joy decided to visit the place herself. “The place is okay,” she said. “I wanted to see the famous Kada Plaza everyone was talking about. I played a game and I ate. Although I didn’t watch a movie, I think it is a good place.”
While waiting to watch a movie, an Igbinedion University student, Princess Obede, also told THISDAY that “It’s a beautiful place to see. And I think it is exposing a lot of Benin people to a different experience in the world of entertainment. It can only get better.”
Olueh Aboyowa, a business developer who works in Benin does not visit the Plaza to watch movies. “No, I am not interested in movies,” he said. “I just come here, buy some drinks, relax and hang out with friends. But generally, it’s an amazing place. You don’t have any other place like this in Benin.”
THISDAY visited the Chinese restaurant at the Plaza and got raving reviews from customers. Tasty and exotic meals were complemented with an immaculate space and comfortable seats. The waiters were courteous, kind, and there was a planned organisation that made it all amazing. The cinemas were also top-notch, with large vivid screens and high sound quality. Moreover, the range of shops inside the Plaza offers a unique shopping experience.
According to the Esama of Benin, while declaring the centre open last year, the Plaza is another way through which the Igbinedion family seeks to contribute to the development of Edo people. He said: “Let me say one thing, the Igbinedion family has always been looking for ways to make the Edo people happy. We could have put this investment in any other place around the world, but irrespective of tongue-wagging, we still mean well for Edo people. We will continue to lead while people follow.”
He also noted that the Plaza was designed to create avenues where people can relax and have fun. “When people are asleep, we are thinking, what next should make people comfortable? This is one example. Each and every one of us has travelled out, and you can be rest assured there is no place better than this place. You can now bring your children to an environment of security, a place your people can come and have rest of mind that your children are safe,” he said.
In Edo state specifically, the Igbinedion family has carved out a name that everyone wants to associate with. A list of the family’s business exploits cut across aviation, mass communication, education and even oil and gas. There are also visible investments in the music and entertainment industry. Most importantly, the family has always endeavoured to invest in their homeland and remain one of the most conspicuous pillars of development in the state. Kada Plaza is another huge example.
However, the Kada revolution is still ongoing and more efforts need to be applied to ensure that the centre is in touch with global standards. For example, THISDAY found out that online payment for movie tickets is still not possible, although the centre’s website claims it is working to make that option a reality. In a digitally driven world like ours, moviegoers should be able to sit down in the comfort of their homes and purchase tickets rather than wasting precious times on queues at the ticket booth.
A Kada visitor, Immaculata Michael told THISDAY that she wasn’t comfortable with the crowd she encountered. “I went on a Sunday, and it was sort of overpopulated. I think there should be more people management. For most people it was just like this avenue to take pictures and upload something cool. Although I enjoyed myself, the place was rowdy,” she said.
THISDAY also gathered that Kada has become the perfect destination for romantic couples in the city. “Kada is the perfect destination for a romantic date in Benin,” Omasan Junior, a student who has been to Kada severally with his girlfriend, told THISDAY. “And that is simply because you could actually start the day with some light snacks, see a movie, then take her out for lunch, still inside the same place. If you want to play games or go to a boutique, everything is there. It is funland in Benin, that’s what I’ll call the place.
When asked how much he spent on each date, Omasan said, “Kada is like a multi-purpose hall where you have so many things that will catch your eye. The thing is, if you go to Kada with twenty thousand, you can exhaust it within thirty minutes. During my own experience, I think we spent seven thousand to have the full experience. We ate from their Chinese restaurant; we bought some popcorn and chips for the movies. Then we played one or two games – that’s another place to spend lots of money.”
However, he wasn’t happy with the management’s effort in promoting the excellent facilities the centre has to offer. “The place is a very good place to escape, but the only glitch in the date was the fact that the hall was empty, and probably too cold, because there were not people in there. I don’t think the publicity they do for their movies is up to standard; despite the fact that they show good movies, the people of Edo State are not used to an idea like this, so you need to put it in their face; you need to make them want to see the movies,” he said.
Article Credit: Thisdaylive