By Niyi Anibaba
Last week, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode embarked on inspection tour of major projects across key sectors of Lagos State including education, health, tourism and road infrastructure. The iconic projects, many of which the contractors have assured would be completed before the end of the year, were conceived and implemented to transform the landscape of the state and make life comfortable for residents, as well as improve on the ranking of Lagos as the fifth largest economy in Africa.
Since assuming office, Ambode has not hidden his desire to grow the economy of Lagos to be the third largest in Africa, and many projects and policies to achieve same are being implemented in quick succession.
Considering the fact that the state had been punching below its weight in terms of infrastructural renewal, the governor, from the first day in office, embarked on ambitious projects across all sectors to the point that the state is now a huge construction site.
Within the first two years in office, he commissioned several projects including two bridges in Abule Egba and Ajah, which were bedeviled by traffic snarl; scaled up security and emergency rescue operation with state-of-the-art facilities; and constructed several inner roads to open up the hinterland and multiple laybys to ease traffic.
In a recent publication by the state government, it was revealed that over 100 projects are ongoing across all the sectors, and the projects, upon completion, would change the face of Lagos and set Lagos on sound pedestal forever.
As part of the efforts to monitor the progress of work and see things for himself, Ambode, with sleeves rolled up and accompanied by top members of his cabinet, visited some of the sites of the projects and the tour offered a first-hand assessment on the work done so far.
The first point of call was the Oworonshoki Lagoon reclamation project, designed to transform the blighted area to major tourism, transportation and entertainment hubs.
Speaking at the site, the governor clarified that contrary to reports in the media, the project was not a housing scheme but part of the overall programme for Lagos to emerge as the entertainment hub for Africa.
“I have read reports insinuating that this project is a housing scheme or whether we want to sell the reclaimed land. That is not the situation and this project is a special one designed to make the state emerge as the tourism hub of Africa,” he said.
According to him, 30 hectares of land space had been reclaimed out of the 50 planned for the scheme while, upon completion, the project would end the perennial flooding in the area, and would also accommodate hotels, event centres, cinemas, clubs, bars, bus/ferry terminal, parking space with capacity for about 1, 000 vehicles, among others.
From the Oworonshoki Lagoon reclamation site, the governor and his team moved to Ilaje and Bariga axis where network of roads were being upgraded and a modern jetty being built
While receiving the governor and his entourage, the Chairman of Bariga Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Hon Kolade Alabi, said the people of the area were grateful to the state government for the projects being implemented to make life comfortable and boost commerce in their neighborhood.
Responding, Ambode commended the contractor handling the roads and new jetty projects, Messrs Avatar Global Resources Limited, for the level of work done and the assurance that the projects would be delivered by July.
He recalled the deplorable conditions of the roads before the decision of government to intervene, saying it was gratifying that the projects were progressing as planned.
At the inspection of ongoing new Model College in Sabo area of Yaba, billed to be delivered in December alongside that of Angus Model College in Shomolu, the governor said the intention of his administration is to scale up infrastructure in public schools across the state, starting with commencement of massive rehabilitation of public schools.
Ambode added that his administration accepted the fact that a lot of public schools in Lagos were not in proper shape, and that in addressing the challenge, government would soon commence massive rehabilitation of public schools.
From there, the governor moved to the Oshodi Transport Interchange being constructed by an indigenous firm, Messrs Planet Projects.
The interchange, designed to redefine public transportation not only in Lagos but also in Nigeria, seeks to create a world class central business district with focus on transportation, security,environment and urban renewal.
The interchange has 3-multi-storey bus terminals with waiting area, loading bays, ticketing stands, drivers lounge, parking areas, conveniences, surveillance tower and CCTV gadgets. Other features include accessible walkways, pedestrian bridges/sky-walks to link the three terminals, shopping malls with street lighting and a dedicated security team on ground. Upon completion, the project would bring about organised transport system, boost intra-tourism for Oshodi, bequeath iconic city gateway to Lagos, ensure secured and comfortable environment, as well as economic growth and job creation.
Speaking after being briefed on the level of work done so far by the contractor and Managing Director, Planet Projects, Mr. Biodun Otunola, Ambode said it was gratifying that such gigantic project was being constructed by a Nigerian firm with 100 per cent Nigerian workers.
“This is a good development for Nigeria. The engineers and workers here are solely Nigerians and it shows that the future prosperity of Nigeria is assured,” he said. The Oshodi Transport Interchange is expected to be delivered by September, 2018.
At the 10-lane Airport Road project being constructed by the state government, the governor was assured by the contractors handling the project that it would be delivered in December as the end of the year gift to Lagos residents and visitors.
Ambode, it would be recalled, had approved the extension of the project to Ladipo International Market axis along Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, as well as the construction of a pedestrian bridge at Toyota Bus Stop in response to the yearnings of traders and residents of the area.
Speaking at the U-turn flyover point along Airport Road after being briefed by Messrs Hi-Tech Construction Company, the governor appealed to residents to bear with government for the inconvenience being experienced as a result of the construction work, saying the project was designed to change the face of Lagos for good and improve on the economy.
“While urging those whose structures gave way for the project to bear with government, he particularly assured that his administration would soon commence payment of compensation to them once paper works were concluded, adding that the project, upon completion, would be a pride to Lagosians in particular and Nigerians in general.
The design of the Airport Road include the reconstruction and expansion of the existing carriage to three-lane expressway on both directions, construction of two-lane service road in both directions, construction of ramp bridge to provide a U-turn from Ajao Estate to the airport, construction of a flyover at NAHCO/Toll Gate and drainage works.
The governor was also at the Maternity Centre in Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, popularly known as Ayinke House, to inspect the progress of work.
Ayinke House is a 162-bed space facility which is expandable to 250, with other features such as 22 neo-natal intensive care units, 16 intensive care units for adults, five fully equipped theatres, laboratory, common ward, maternal and child care centre, among others.
Ambode said it was gratifying that the Ayinke House, designed to be the major baby factory of the state, would be delivered in June and commissioned for public use in July. Before now, the state administration had commissioned a helipad for medical emergency at LASUTH and also constructed alternative road to the hospital to facilitate access to the centre.
The last port of call for the day was the ongoing Pen Cinema Flyover, designed to significantly address the traffic snarl associated with the area, boost commerce and improve on the aesthetics of Agege and environs.
Afetr receiving briefings from the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Engr Adebowale Adesanya, and the construction firm handling the project, Ambode expressed satisfaction with work done, and explained the rationale behind the project.
“When you add the total length of the Pen Cinema Bridge together, it is equivalent of Ajah and Abule Egba Bridges. In terms of the width, it is wider. We are impressed with the progress of work here; I am actually impressed with what has been done in the abatement area and the piling that is being done”, he said.
“We believe this flyover will change forever the economic landscape of the Agege axis because it comes with its economic value and expanding our infrastructure to this axis by complementing what we have in Abule Egba is the right way to go. I just want to encourage the contractors to deliver on schedule by December”.
Interestingly, other projects spread across the state, like the J.K Randle Centre, reconstructed Onikan Stadium, among others, are expected to be completed at the same time with above projects
In all of the areas visited by the governor, the people were visibly happy with the projects ongoing in their neighborhood and were ready to sacrifice today for a better future.
One can only imagine what the mood of the people would be upon completion of the projects in December as promised. For sure, the Lagos landscape would never be the same again.
Anibaba, a journalist, lives in Ikorodu.