June 9, 2009

Transforming Lagos to Mega City, a must — Gov. Fashola

By Olasunkanmi Akoni
“FASHOLA diagnoses the problems and goes at it like a skilled mechanic. He wants to know what will work and what will not work. He is transforming Lagos State ruthlessly because he is not a politician,” says Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka in his recent comment on the administration of Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State.

Fashola, last  May 29,  marking the second year anniversary, took a retrospective look at his achievements in the first half of his first term at the helm of affairs in Lagos State, with a promise that there would be no relenting in the pace and tempo of the administration’s purposeful governance.

Opening his speech, he stated: “If governance under our presidential constitution were a game of soccer, today would mark exactly the half-time period. Any experienced footballer knows that in any game his side has approximately ninety minutes to win or lose the game plus a few odd minutes the referee may decide to add on as extra time.

“In strict constitutional governance, there is no provision for extra time. Moreover, governance is not a game of pleasure or fun. Good or bad governance can make the difference between life and death; failure or success; life long sadness or joy for millions of people.”

GOvernor Fashola of Lagos State

GOvernor Fashola of Lagos State

Fashola who spoke at a world press conference held at the Banquet Hall of the Lagos House, Ikeja to also commemorate democracy day, said from inception, the administration has made a point to invest every minute of its time in achieving its overall policy thrust of poverty alleviation and sustainable economic growth as well as the sustained transformation of Lagos into Africa’s model Mega City.

“As we resume the second half of the on-going serious and purposeful governance in Lagos, I assure you that there would be no relenting in our pace and tempo till we successfully cross the rubicon”, he said.

The governor, who noted that the widely acknowledged achievement of his administration has been the product of the team work of great men and women who work with him in the public service, gave kudos to everyone in the Executive Council who have allowed him to be leader.

He particularly noted that the partnership of the other two arms that constitute the government namely the legislature and the judiciary has been immensely helpful through the journey so far.

His words: “Your unprecedented demonstration of appreciation of our modest efforts so far will certainly fuel our determination to do more to justify the immense confidence reposed in us”.

Conducting a rapid overview of his administration’s achievements before a spell bound audience comprising senior journalists, party chieftains and representatives of civil society, Governor Fashola affirmed that an efficient transportation network is the pivot around which the economy of any modern Mega city revolves. He declared that the successful implementation of the revolutionary Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System has been a major accomplishment of his first two years.

He added that the BRT innovation has introduced a culture of better understanding among social classes on Lagos roads as people of low, medium and high social classes ride on the same faster, safer, predictable, relatively cheaper and more comfortable buses from one destination to the other.

He also noted that the BRT scheme, which currently creates employment for not less than 2,500 persons, is currently being expanded to cover Yaba, Oyingbo, Iddo, Oshodi to Mile 2, Apapa to CMS and ultimately the Iyana-Ipaja-Igando-Ikotun corridor.

The governor also revealed the administration has equally taken critical steps to maximise the water transportation potentials of Lagos State to facilitate more efficient movement of goods, people and services, create employment and boost economic growth and had already facilitated the operation of two companies, City Link Limited and Metro Ferry, which are offering Ferry services between Badore to Marina and Ikorodu to Marina respectively through Public-Private-Partnerships.

“Work has been equally completed on the dredging of water transportation routes from Tolu_Ajegunle Canal_Tin can Water Front; Mile 2 – Oke-Afa and Tincan Water Front to Liverpool Bridge while work is on-going on Osborne-Ikorodu; Badore_Osborne and Ikorodu-Ijede-Badore routes.

“On rail transportation, we are committed to delivering two of the planned 7-rail road Network designed for the State namely, the Red Line from Agbado to Marina and the Blue Line from Okokomaiko to Marina”.

According to him, the designs for the 27Km Blue Line from Okokomaiko to Eric Moore and the 37Km Red Line from Iddo to Ijoko are ready, with the contract tenders already being reviewed, adding that only two issues stand in the way_‘Financing and People’.

Fashola explained that massive construction and modernization of hundreds of roads and bridges including provision of street lights in virtually all local government areas of Lagos State today will not only impact positively on efficiency of transportation and enhance property values but also improve safety and security and better economic productivity.

He said some of the major road projects complete with modern facilities such as street lights, pipe ducts, drainage channels and beautification of medians, which have been delivered to the public include the Ago Palace Way Extension and Okota Link Bridge in Amuwo-Odofin Local Government; the second phase of the Adetokunbo Ademola Road on Victoria Island; the Bourdillion-Alexander-Gerald roads in Ikoyi; the Montgommery road, Aje road and Commercial Avenue all in Yaba.

The governor revealed that the state has paid the contractor to move to site for  the immediate commencement of work on the transformation of the Lagos Badagry Expressway into a 10 lane international highway complete with Bus Rapid Transit Routes, pedestrian Walkways and Light Rail mass transit routes.

He said for the administration, massive infrastructure renewal and expansion across diverse sectors is a key opportunity of virtually constructing the way out of poverty.

Governor Fashola noted that the massive infrastructure renewal is also strategic to job creation as thousands of workers are engaged at construction sites in the state at a time when millions of jobs are being lost across the globe, adding that in the health sector, approval has just been given for the employment of over 1400 new medical professionals to further boost public sector health delivery capacity.

“The transformation of Oshodi is undeniably the flagship of our efforts to decongest the state. Not only does traffic now flow smoothly through the former notorious slum and crime zone, the entire area is being renewed into a serene and appealing environment”, Governor Fashola told his audience.

He affirmed that if Oshodi can wear this new look, there is no doubt that every part of Lagos State has the potential for positive transformation which the administration is determined to make a reality.

“The new Simpson Transfer Loading Station is a statement of the quality and standard of solid waste management that will characterize the future of our state at full capacity. It is the first of a series of such stations to be located across the State to compact wastes into smaller volumes for faster and more efficient evacuation to dump sites with fewer trucks”, he disclosed.

Fashola said in terms of measures to combat poverty, the state is sustaining the provision of free education in all public nursery, primary and secondary schools in Lagos State and paying internal and external examination fees for all children in the State’s public primary and secondary schools so that no child drops out of school due to inability to pay.

Fashola said the skill acquisition programme, combined with the Micro Finance Scheme has created an army of several thousand of self employed young men and women running small and medium businesses of their own and employing others with the most recent being the delivery of 1,255 Taxi Cabs for new transport business entrepreneurs and the cab operators who are their employees.

He recalled that the Lagos State Security Trust Fund with the strong and active support of the private sector, the commitment and passion of men and officers of security agencies has reduced and managed crime to a level unprecedented in the history of any State in this country.

His words: “As I speak, our Central Command and Control Security Centre is at almost 90% completion stage and the number of CCTV cameras being installed is growing to ensure the utilization of modern technology to effectively monitor and police every inch of Lagos State”.

“We are equally going beyond our constitutional brief to re-equip and motivate the Nigeria Prison Service in Lagos State to ensure more humane treatment of convicts and speedy dispensation of justice in Lagos State”.

The state, he said is equally working assiduously to reclaim the lost glory of Lagos State in sports through the upgrading of Teslim Balogun Stadium to a FIFA_rated world class facility and the on_going construction of a 15,000 sitting capacity stadium in Agege as well as the upgrading of Campos Square into a 5000 sitting capacity stadium.

He added that the state also recently hosted the most colourful, globally recognized and successful 81st edition of the unique Eyo Festival also known as The Adamu Orisha Play.