…Inherited Liabilities Slowing Down Projects, Says Gov
For 45 minutes on Tuesday, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, explained the efforts of his administration in the last four months to bring about sustainable solution to traffic challenge in the State.
Beyond a short-term fix that resulted in the ongoing rehabilitation of highways and arterial roads, the Governor said Lagos would be expanding the capacity of its water transportation and leveraging Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to address the observed disorderliness in the mass transit system.
To this end, Sanwo-Olu said his cabinet had approved the deployment of a six-kilometre wide metropolitan fibre optic cable to be laid across the city. Upon completion, it would deliver fast Internet broadband to all residents across the length and breadth of the State. The project, which is expected to be delivered in four months, would be used to drive compliance with the State’s traffic laws as well as expand the capacities of its waterways, the Governor said.
The Governor was a guest at The Platform Nigeria, a yearly programme organised by the Covenant Christian Centre in Orile-Iganmu, Lagos. The church’s senior pastor, Poju Oyemade, coordinated the session.
Giving details about why Lagos would continue to experience traffic congestion, Sanwo-Olu said more than 10 per cent of the nation’s 180 million population resided in the State, adding that Lagos also has a vehicular movement average of 240 vehicles per kilometre as against the national average, which ranges between 11 and 15 vehicles per kilometre.
For these reasons, the Governor said there would always be traffic congestion on Lagos roads, but pointed out that the transportation programmes of his administration were developed to proffer solution that would reduce the residents’ pains.
He said: “To solve Lagos traffic problems from short to medium term basis, we have decided to come up with intermodal transport scheme, which will simultaneously see us developing capacities in waterways, rail and terrestrial mass transit. Our intervention is largely focused on the road, because it is the most used method of transportation. Once the rainy season passes, we are going to embark on extensive road rehabilitation across the State.
“The BRT programme is on course and we have taken delivery of additional 800 buses, which we are currently trying to clear from the Nigerian Port. Once this is done, we will be able to remove a lot of yellow commercial buses off the road and we will have articulated buses in line with our transportation plan.
“Our medium to long-term plan involves the strengthening of water transportation system. We have just acquired about seven new boats and we are about introducing ‘water taxis’ that can ferry about 60 to 80 passengers each on a single trip. In our long-term plan, we are developing our rail system by completing the Blue Line, which started from Mile 2 to Marina.”
Sanwo-Olu explained his administration’s policy direction on education, giving details on how technology and fast Internet connectivity would be leveraged to deliver quality education to pupils in public schools.
The Governor said the State had finalised agreement with a tech-based education consultant to begin the process of digitising school curriculum, with the objective to promote accountability in the delivery of quality education.
Sanwo-Olu disclosed that his administration had audacious programmes lined up to address the current challenges facing the State, but hinted that the implementation of his development agenda had largely been slowed down by a number of irrevocable financial liabilities tied to the State’s resources by his immediate predecessor.
He said: “We have to look at the finances of the State. But, I know I cannot give excuses to Lagosians that I met the State in financial mess. It would amount to meaningless stories. And nobody will never know the real status of finances of any State until they get there. It is until I got there that I realised how bad we are in terms of outstanding liabilities, financial commitments to local banks and Federal Government’s bonds.”
The Governor said efforts were on to widen the tax net and improve the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the State, which, he said, would be used to fund some of the pending capital projects.
Sanwo-Olu cautioned those passing judgment on his four-month old government with a charge that the period was “too short” to measure the impact of the administration. The Governor said he believed in proper planning of key programmes before implementation of decisions that would affect lives of the people.