***As Fashola flags off Bus Franchise Scheme for Iyana-Ipaja-Maryland
By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Monsur Olowopejo
For long they bore their suffering in silence,Â as they daily contended with most of the badÂ roads across the Lagos metropolis which had become increasingly dangerous and unsafe over the years. But now they no longer think that silence is golden as they have resorted to speaking out loudly about their plight.
That is why members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, (NURTW) as well as some concerned citizens recentlyÂ sent a passionate appeal to Governor Babatunde Fashola to save the situation by directing the relevant authorities of government to fix the roads.
The appeal was made at the official flagâ€“off ceremony of bus services from Iyana-Ipaja to Mary Land, under the Bus Franchise Scheme at Ikeja. Speaking at the event, President of the Igbatuntun City Bus Multi Purpose Society, Elder Sesan Oladimeji who represented the National President of the NURTW, Chief John Olaoye, commended the efforts of the state government so far in combating traffic congestion in the state but did not fail to draw attention to various dilapidated roads which he stressed required urgent attention.
The speakers expressed worry on the continued neglect of the roads, especially along Iyana-Ipaja- Oshodi, Iyana-Ipaja Ikotun roads which are in dire need of total rehabilitation They lamented that the poor state of the roads which are marked by wide potholes and have brought untold hardship on road users just as quality man-hours are lost on daily basis due to attendant traffic congestion, especially that along Onilekere and Mangoro areas.
The speakers noted that though most of the roads are under the authority of the Federal Government, that is, those considered as federal roads, the Fashola-ledÂ state government should be responsive to the yearnings ofÂ residents and rise up to the occasion by fixing them in the general interest of the public and in the process â€œput the federal government to shame.â€
They, however, pledged their unflinching support to the various laudable projects and obvious efforts of the present administration to turn the state into a megacity, especially in reducing traffic in the state. In his address at the occasion, Gov. FasholaÂ assured the people that his administration will soon commence aggressive rehabilitation on all the bad roads.
He said though his government was constrained by lack of adequate fund as provided in the 2009 budget, that would not stop it from going ahead with rehabilitation works which will start as soon as the rainy season is over. He disclosed that contractors have also been mobilised to do the jobs which would be executed in phases. Gov. Fashola, therefore urged residents to pay their taxes as when due rather than waiting for law enforcement agents to come after them. According to him, â€œbecause by willingly paying your tax you relieve the government on cost of enforcementâ€.
On the Iyana-Ipaja bus franchise, the Governor disclosed that additional 150 buses will soon be added to the existing 50 in order to have a wider effect in relieving commuters of stress as well as improve the standard of lives of the people. According to the Governor, the scheme is one of the multi-dimensional solutions to traffic problems in the state and his administration is determined to tackle the problems headlong.Â Â â€œI hope you understand that you are pioneers today in what is easily the biggest bus franchise of the African continent. The whole continent is looking at you,â€ he said.
He added that the success of the scheme will depend largely on how well and how efficiently they carry out their assignment, and implored them to always remember that every time they sit behind the wheel, the lives of the passengers are entrusted in their hands. â€œWe expect you to be models of proper road behaviours, vehicular management and road traffic compliant as models for people of this state,â€ he stated.
Governor Fashola also said despite the fact that the service is a government promoted scheme, law enforcement agents like LASTMA and others would always do their job fairly but firmly to ensure that every one stays within the ambit of the law. He explained that the scheme is a response to the request of the people for the deployment of additional BRT buses, reminding that BRT buses require very reliable infrastructures to work smoothly.
He said the state government was working in so many areas to provide roads and bus shelters that would protect the people from weather, saying with time there would be more of the buses in operation across the state. Gov. Fashola promised to commence the total rebuilding of the Iyana Ipaja roadÂ in phases, saying the two contractors that will handle the first phase will move to site immediately after the rains. The Governor added that with the 50 buses which have been deployed to the route from Maryland-Iyana Ipaja- Igando, travel time would come to within 35 to 40 minutes over a distance of about 40 kilometres.
He also said the efficiency would also help to raise the standard of life of the people of the area.
Global meltdown a challenge to HIV/AID cases in Nigeria
The Women and Children of Hope Foundation has said the global economic meltdown was adversely affecting the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).
Speaking at Onikan, Lagos, venue of the distribution of food items to people living with AIDS, the executive director of Women and Children of Hope(WCH), Mrs. Lucy Attah,Â said despite the awareness that has been very effective on HIV issues, the prevalence was still very high because of the poverty level which still pushes young girls who want to make ends into prostitution. She said all the drugs their members were using were donated by USAID, adding that the only problem was the mindset of people around them who refuse to show love to affected people.
Also speaking at the event, the Prevention Officer of WCH, Mr John Ibeto, who has been tested positive since 2004 enlightened the people on the special diet that will keep them going, saying one apple a day keeps the doctor away.
He said: â€œRemaining healthy can be achieved by eating good food and good diet such as vegetables and fruits, sea food, especially crayfish in place of meat,â€ adding that crayfish is a must eat for those who are HIV positive. He said that local diets such as Effirin and Uzziza were also not excluded as they should be sliced amd mixed in any food prepared for a HIV-positive person.
Utomi charges youth on hardwork
Presidential candidate of African Democratic Party (ADP) in the 2007 presidential election and Chairman, Lagos Business School, Professor Pat Utomi has chargedÂ Nigerian youths to shun vices capable of eroding their future. He said they should approach their future with dint ofÂ work asÂ in the good old-fashioned way where culture of hard work before gratification was the norm.
Professor UtomiÂ gave the charge during the just concludedÂ two-day annual youth conference organised by the Apapa Superintendency Youth Association of Christ Holy Church International in Lagos.
Utomi who was among other eminent Nigerians honoured with the â€œYouth Development Par Excellence Awardâ€ enjoined the youths to inculcate good attitude, fear of God, good leadership and culture of hard work with commitment to values as representatives of tomorrow leaders.
Represented by the Dean and Chief Executive, School of Eloquence of the Institution, Mr. Ubong Essien, Professor Utomi warned the youths not to be in a hurry in life in whatever they do or be carried away by material things that cannot outlive them. He urged themÂ to build an enduring future based on focus and hardwork, with the hope that one day they will be rewarded.