Mr. Abiodun Tobun is a member representing Epe Constituency 1 in Lagos State House of Assembly. In this interview, he speaks on the Apapa gridlock and what the state government is doing to curb incessant traffic gridlock in Lagos among other sundry issues as captured by Ebun Sessou. Excerpt:
The Apapa gridlock is an issue. Some of the trucks are moving from the expressway to the inner roads; in your capacity as a lawmaker, tell us what the House is doing to bring sanity on that road.
The state government is considering a temporary trailer park along Orile axis and a permanent trailer park along Badagry axis. With this gesture, the trailers would be taken off the roads. Apapa road is a Federal Government business. It is expected that the Federal Government would hand over revenue collection in Apapa Port to the Lagos State Government so that the state government can address the issue.
Until the Federal Government hands off revenue collection in Apapa Port, Apapa gridlock will not cease. We receive comments on a daily basis on Apapa road and it is really worrisome. There are lots of measures put in place by the state government to combat gridlock on that axis but the Federal Government is not helping us.
And until the Federal Government allows the state government to take the responsibility of collecting revenue on that axis, the problem may linger. We know that we are in the same party and that is why the state government is doing the little it could to address traffic gridlock on the road.
Does that suggest that the traffic law in Lagos State cannot work?
It is working. The traffic law did not say the trucks should not access the ports. What it says is that they should not move during the day. It is expected that the Federal Government that is generating revenue should have created trailer parks along that axis. There is concurrent issue and there is residual issue. The residual issue is handled by the state government while the concurrent one is handled by the Federal Government. The state government is trying in its capacity to ensure that problems created by trailers are solved.
Traffic agencies in Lagos are becoming a thorn in the people’s flesh. What is your reaction to that?
People should be sensitised about the situation of Lagos. Traffic problem in Lagos has become a major issue. There is a platform created by the state government which is 112 or 767 for people to call. Lagosians should call those numbers in case of emergencies.
What do you say about Police extorting money from road users?
That is beyond our jurisdiction and that is why we have been clamouring for state police so that those police can be under the control of the state government. The police take order from the Inspector- General of Police in Abuja. In Nigeria, the federal police want to do everything and the few ones posted to the state violate the provision of the law and nobody could report them so that they can be dealt with, and that is a major problem. There must be sanity on our roads. Any Judas Iscariot should be dealt with.
What effort is the state government making to construct more roads in the state?
There are demands across the state for more roads which the government is working on. Therefore, the effort to construct more roads is sacrosanct and non- negotiable, but due to unavailability of funds, the project is being taken as a matter of priority.
Some roads in Lagos metropolis especially in Akowonjo, have been abandoned. The residents complain bitterly over the pains they go through as a result of these bad roads. What do you say on this?
Construction work is going on as planned and the state government is reviewing the abandoned ones with the intention of determining whether to terminate, re-award them, give them to other contractors or encourage the present contractors by way of mobilising them to complete those projects.
The abandoned projects are regarded as slow and they are projects awarded by the previous administration. Most of the contractors refused to complete the projects. But most of those projects embarked upon by this administration are receiving adequate attention.
And so, the state government is reviewing them to determine the fate of those projects.
What are the criteria for awarding projects to contractors by the state government?
When a particular project is conceptualised, it requires submission of willingness by contractors after the project has been advertised. There is a tenders’ board or procurement agencies that would disseminate the information to the public that some projects are ready to be given out to contractors. And the contractors would show their willingness having studied the project. Then, the state government will understudy the contractors and then award the contract to the most competent company at a term and condition to be agreed upon and percentage of the cost of the project will be given to that contractor as mobilisation fee.
There are insinuations that government awards contracts to friends and relations, among others, which hinders completion of projects. Do you agree with this?
Naturally, you will not give a project to your enemy because your enemy will frustrate you but that does not suggest that you will give it to your close allies. The projects are given to contractors who ensure completion of projects. An accountant cannot act as an engineer and the engineer must be ready to work for government and deliver good service. Whatever relationship you have with the contractor, what is most important is quality service delivery.
What are the road projects going on presently?
They are numerous. Road projects are going on across the state. From Abule Egba to Oshodi, the road network is still on going. The inner roads are under construction. The state government has conceptualised 181 roads and 50 per cent of them have been given out just to ensure that everybody enjoys dividends of democracy.
The Ibeju-Lekki/Epe road is one way. What is the state government doing in this regard?
Government has conceptulised dualisation of that road. The road is coming up any moment from now. The state government wants to ensure that the present projects reach advanced stage before embarking on another project so it will not become a white elephant project.
…And your take on bad roads in Lagos?
Most of those roads were constructed and maintained by the government but the fact is that Lagos is highly populated and the use of trucks to move our property affects our roads negatively. The huge number of road users on a daily basis is putting pressure on our roads and it is a big problem.
Don’t you think those roads were not properly constructed?
Some of those roads have been constructed over a long period of time. Some were constructed 20 years ago. Even in London, there is road rehabilitation and maintenance.